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Farmers, scientists advocate use of biotechnology to boost food production

Following the impact of COVID-19 and banditry activities in the country, agriculturalists and scientists have advocated the use of biotechnology to be deployed to scale up food production in the country.

agricultural biotechnology
Agricultural biotechnology involves the use of genetic engineering, molecular markers, diagnostics, vaccines, and tissue culture, to modify living organisms

Some of the experts made this known during a webinar session tagged: “Media Summit on Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research in Nigeria”, in a statement by the organisers – National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).

National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Kabir Ibrahim, said it was imperative to explore the option of the use of innovation to upscale food production to bring about food sufficiency to avert hunger due to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, emphasised the need to sensitise smallholder farmers to embrace technological advancement to avert hunger caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that, to achieve food security, modern technologies such as biotechnology must be used.

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“Already, a lot of work has been going on to commercialise cowpea, maize, cassava, rice, sorghum as well as cotton and the farmers are seeing good results so it is, therefore, easy to get them to embrace biotechnology,” he said.

Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr Rose Gidado, said the application of efforts would encourage stakeholders to participate in the science-based decision.

She said that this move was crucial and necessary for the acceptance and adoption of innovative technology.

Gidado said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of Zero Hunger by 2030 was fundamental for national development and well being of Nigeria, adding that the facilitation of adequate understanding of the several ways to achieve the goal “is very fundamental”.

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She said that with the current population of over 200 million people and projected population of 400 million people by 2050, amid the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria is faced with the risk of the decreased farming population due to age, decreased arable land, poverty, malnutrition and hunger.

She said that agricultural biotechnology was the solution to Nigeria’s food security. She also said the conventional method of agriculture could no longer meet up with the country’s demand.

“With the current state of agriculture in Nigeria, it has become paramount to also adopt this technology to improve our productivity and revive our industries.

“The time is now, let us sensitise people on the potential of this innovation to aid decision making and adoption in Nigeria,” she said.

Acting Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, harped on the importance of biotechnology application for the benefits of man, especially in the areas of health, agriculture and environment.

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“Biotechnology has other applications; in agriculture, it is massive and that is where most post-COVID-19 is coming, you find out that here in NABDA, using biotechnology we have started impacting massively in the area of agriculture.

“For instance, in our yam multiplication programme, last year, we were able to produce one million yam seedlings and this year, we are targeting five million yam seedlings, all these things are feasible because of biotechnology,” he said.

The NABDA DG said the agency had been involved in using biotechnology to advance health activities, especially in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.

By Bukola Adewumi

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