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ABU Zaria to develop Artemisia to strengthen fight against malaria

The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, says it is set to collaborate with Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Chemical Engineering of ABU to develop Artemisia industry for Nigeria.

Artemisia is a plant which produces artemisinin used in the production of Artemisinin-based Combination Drug Therapy (ACTs) used for the treatment of malaria.

Prof. Muhammad Ishiyaku, the Executive Director of IAR, made this known during a media interaction in Zaria on Tuesday.

Ishiyaku said the mandate of the institute was for national genetic improvement of cotton, maize, cowpea, groundnut, sunflower, Artemisia and Jatropher plant.

He added that “artemisia is a plant which is useful in the treatment of malaria; the anti-malaria drug is extracted from the plant.

“We have been given the responsibility to develop a variety of artemisia that would have high yield of the chemical compound.

“The institute would strengthen collaboration with Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Chemical Engineering to develop Artemisia industry for Nigeria.”

Ishiyaku added that Jatropher plant, known as `bini-da-zugu’ in Hausa language, was very good at providing bio-diesel and widely used in the cosmetic industry.

He said the institute would also focus on developing groundnut, sorghum and cowpea that would provide feed for livestock.

He noted that the institute was not only concentrating on the direct food aspect of the crops but all the agricultural systems that would make the system more productive, including the development of livestock industry.

He maintained that by diversifying into the production of feed for animals from the genetically improved crops, the institute intended to curb farmers and herders conflict, especially in the northern part of the country.

Similarly, Ishiyaku said the institute had developed flakes known as “Kanzo” in Hausa from maize and sorghum in different taste and flavours ranging from salty, sweetened, spiced and other flavors.

The director called on entrepreneurs to partner with the institute to explore different business avenues, saying “the institute has also developed a bio fertilizer.

“Bio-fertilizers are micro-organisms that have beneficial association with crop plants such that the micro-organisms get some food from the plant and in turn they would produce fertilizer for the plant to benefit from.

“Granulated micro-organisms are now packaged in such a way that it can be applied to the soil directly to improve its fertility and increase crop yield by about 20-30 per cent.

“This is another area we are going to partner with entrepreneurs to develop a small enterprise for the production of this bio-fertiliser.”

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