The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says it will embark on molecular studies to improve tomatoes and Gum Arabic yields in the country.
The Director, Agricultural Biotechnology Department, NABDA, Dr Nasiru Ibrahim stated this on Monday in Abuja.
Molecular is the study of chromosomes and gene expression of organisms to give insight into its heredity, genetic variation and mutations.
According to him, among the agency’s mandate is to come up with modern techniques of improving varieties of food and their shelve life.
He said tomatoes were one crop that gave farmers concern because of its tendency to over ripe and be wasted during harvest season.
“NABDA is embarking on molecular breeding of tomatoes to delay their getting ripe too soon.
“The major disadvantage in tomatoes farming is getting over ripe before the marketing.
“The molecular breeding is to ensure that the shelve life can be delayed to reduce the loss on the value chain.
“With this kind of breeding, it can stay for a longer time in the store of the farmer before getting to the market,’’ he said.
Ibrahim said that the same molecular system of breeding would be applied to the Gum Arabic to improve its yield.
Gum Arabic is a tree from North Sudan that produces gum.
Ibrahim said its major problem was that of yield, adding that it varied from as low as 250g to as much as 6000g per year.
“In North Sudan, it is a major export; we can also make it a major export in Nigeria if we are able to improve its yield.
“It has a high industrial value as it is a major input in traditional lithography, printing and paint production.’’
Ibrahim said that the product was used in making glue, cosmetics and viscosity control in inks and textile.
Ibrahim said after the studies, scientists in NABDA would be able to determine how best to alter the genes in the tomatoes and Gum Arabic to make them more profitable for the country. (NAN)