The TELA Maize Project held its third Annual Review and Planning Meeting (ARPM) in April 2021, to review the progress and achievements attained in the third year of project implementation and prioritize areas of key focus for the fourth year.
The three-day online meeting was organised by AATF and brought together project partner organizations including CIMMYT, Bayer Crop Science; Government representatives from the project implementing countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa; and the project donors, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
In his opening remarks, Dr. Denis Kyetere, the AATF Executive Director noted that the Project made positive strides during the third year of its implementation. He observed that the project was able to secure an additional $ 2.5 million for five years from the USAID to complement the BMGF’s funding. He attributed this development to the commitment of the project teams.
“We look forward to the fourth year of the Project with renewed determination and optimism in our quest to contribute towards transforming the livelihoods of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through innovative agricultural technologies,” said. Dr. Kyetere.
The country teams presented progress reports and results including release of one DroughtTego hybrid maize variety in Ethiopia and two varieties in Nigeria; planting of the National Performance Trials in six sites for the TELA maize in Kenya; submission for registration of two TELA hybrids Bt maize in South Africa and submission of dossier for environmental release in Ethiopia and Mozambique.
Lawrence Kent, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation representative in charge of the TELA project commended the Project partnership for the commitment shown over the years to make the project a success.
“We know the regulatory approvals are based on sound evidence on safety, performance and politics which the regulatory and communications teams have focused to ensure decision makers, regulatory communities, politicians and influencers have the right messages about the safety of these products and the great potential they offer to farmers, he noted.
Lawrence was particularly impressed by the level of outreach and communications activities in Nigeria, reaching millions of Nigerians and targeted politicians, policymakers, governors, farmer associations, and members of regulatory bodies to ensure positive messages on the products reach them.
He pointed out that there has been proactive regulatory work to complete trials, generate data, and submit high-quality dossiers within the stipulated timelines.
“The objective of the project is to ensure at least four African countries approve and initiate commercialization of transgenic drought tolerant and insect protected maize by 2023,” he stated.
Faith Tarr, the USAID representative in the project noted that the project is progressing well towards achieving its goals. She lauded the Project’s efforts towards bringing stakeholders together to ensure the technology meets the needs of the smallholder farmers in the region.
She noted that USAID is committed to supporting the success of the project and will continue collaborating with the project teams to realize the goal of the project.
The TELA Maize Project is a public-private partnership coordinated by AATF and that is working towards the commercialization of transgenic drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties to enhance food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The long-term goal of the TELA Maize Project is to make drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties available royalty-free to smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The project builds on progress made from a decade of excellent breeding work under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project. WEMA’s purpose was to develop drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties for farmers to produce more reliable harvests under moderate drought conditions and protect maize from insects.