By Adelola Amihere
With a current population of over 200 million people and a projected population growth of about 400million people by the year 2050, stakehokders have harped that the adoption of agricultural biotechnology tool, among other tools against conventional agriculture is the way to go if Nigeria is serious about ensuring food security for her teeming population,
This is just as they argued that the application of deliberate efforts that will encourage stakeholders to participate in science-based decision is crucial and necessary for the acceptance and adoption of the innovative technology, therefore, the facilitation of adequate understanding of the several ways Nigeria can achieve the goal is very fundamental.
Making the submission during a virtual Media Summit on Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research in Nigeria, Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr Rose Gidado, noted that the estimated population rise amidst the COVID-19 pandemic effect, Nigeria is faced with the risk of decreased farming population due to age; decreased arable land; poverty, malnutrition and hunger.
She said, “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 sensitize people on the potentials of this innovation to aid decision making and adoption in Nigeria”.
She however called for the need for effective science communication that will debunk public myths about agricultural biotechnology and its tools has moved from being urgent to emergency as many poor countries whom agricultural biotechnology is supposed to benefit the most, are being deprived due to false information and myths.
On his part, the Acting Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Alex Akpa also harped on the importance of biotechnology application for the benefits of man especially in the areas health, agriculture and environment.
“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 program, last year, we were able to produce 1 million yam seedlings and this year, we are targeting 5 million yam seedlings, all these things are feasible because of Biotechnology”, he noted.
The NABDA DG pointed out that the Agency had been involved in using biotechnology to advance health activities, especially in the era of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive problem in the world and here in Nigeria. We all know that at this time, Biotechnology is a tool that is extremely important and useful not only to Nigeria, but to the whole world.
Also speaking, National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc Kabir Ibrahim, said it is necessary to explore the option of the use of innovation to upscale food production in order to bring about food sufficiency to avert hunger due to the ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Arc Ibrahim emphasised that there was a need to sensitise smallholder farmers to embrace technological advancement in order to avert hunger occasioned by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Already a lot of work has been going on to commercialise cow pea, 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.