Earlier this year, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in collaboration with stakeholders organised a workshop in Abuja for farmers, educating them on the need to embrace the modern techniques used in western countries to increase food production as well as wealth in the nation. BINTA SHAMA reports.
The history of NABDA
In recognition of the importance of biotechnology to national development, the Federal Executive Council on 23rd of April 2001 approved the National Biotechnology Policy, which led to the establishment of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in November 2001. The agency was established under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to implement the policy that is aimed at promoting, coordinating, and setting research and development priority in biotechnology for Nigeria. Based on this premise, the programmes of the agency are structured in line with the international standard bearing in mind the development of local technological contents .
Some agricultural scientists said the communication of biotechnology for national development can maintain the population growth of a nation and in return make food security a lesser global concern.
According to their research, genetic modification could protect crops against threats to strong yields such as diseases, drought, pests and herbicides and therefore could boost food production.
Speaking, the Acting Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof Alex Akpa, said, the nation was challenged with agricultural produce due to its population.
“We are faced with challenges of rapid population growth and the need to double food production by 2050. This calls for increased application of biotechnology in agriculture. Small farms received little government support.”
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Bitrus Bako Nabasu, stressed the need for farmers to embrace this basic knowledge and information thereby assisting them to make sophisticated decisions in this sector.
This, he argued, would play key roles in creating awareness and promoting the understanding of modern agricultural biotechnology because of its potential to address hunger and generate wealth for Nigeria.
Dr. Abdulraham Kollo of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) maintained that Africa had continued to remain one of the most challenged continents where hunger and illiteracy are on the increase.
Kollo, however, regretted that farmers were still being denied such technologies because anti-genetically modified organism crusaders were busy instilling fear and spreading unscientific information about its efficacy.
Contributing, Dr. Rose Gidado of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), hinted that the government would soon embark on commercialisation of Bt. Cotton to revamp textile industry.
More agricultural technolgy production
In support of this initiative, recently, NABDA stationed a capacity building training for bio-entrepreneurs in Ogun State.
It was recorded that over 300 residents of Owode, Ogun West Senatorial Zone, Ogun state, benefitted from the first phase of a three-day Bio enterprises training and capacity building for bio-entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurship empowerment training, coming from the stable of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abuja, was held at Bio Resources Development Centre, Owode (BIODEC), tagged: BIODEC Owode Program For Entrepreneurship Empowerment and Development (BIOSPEED).
The beneficiaries were taught fresh water fish production and processing technology; poultry production and feed formulation technology; modern mushroom production technology; macro propagation of breadfruits, plantain and banana; breadfruit processing technology; giant pawpaw production technology, bio-insecticide production technology; soap and laundry starch production technology; and Zobo wine production technology.
According to the agency, BIOSPEED was designed to improve the standard of living of the people in the Southwest in general and Yewaland in particular, through adequate empowerment with the attendant benefits of job and wealth creation through various bio-enterprises.
In his welcome address, the acting Director-General NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa said the training came up at the right time when the country is battling with recession, as a result of over-dependence on crude oil.
Akpa advised the beneficiaries to be determined to put into practice every skill they acquired. “With this training, you can make your little contribution to make Nigeria a better place, become self-employed aand employers of labour as well.”
The Centre’s coordinator, Dr. Henry Olayinka, who disclosed that BIODEC Owode was facilitated by the former Chairman, House Committee on Science and Technology, Hon. Isiaq Abiodun Akinlade, who represented the zone at the lower legislative house, said the programme was not just a training, but a timely intervention to bring the gains of biotechnology closer to the people at the grassroots.
“Here at your doorstep is a golden opportunity for you to update your knowledge, therefore grab this opportunity and be determined to make an impact in Ogun State.”
In his keynote remarks, Akinlade promised to use his knowledge and connection to bring development to the area, adding that the empowerment training will bring money to everyone’s pocket and be useful to them later in life.
Acting DG NABDA’s 11months in office
Prof. Alex Uwadiegwu Akpa, is a professor of Pharmaceutical Microbiology and Biotechnology, he is a Fellow of the World Health Organisation (FWHO), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (FRSTMH) and a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Administration of Nigeria (FCAI).
The federal government approved the appointment of Prof. Alex Uwadiegwu Akpa, as the Acting Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) on the 5th of June, 2018.
The letter, is sequel to the letter dated, May 31, 2018 by a directive of the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, ordering that the management of the affairs of the Agency be handed over to him, as the most senior director in the Agency.
Pro to his appointment, Akpa has four patents granted for his original inventions and has won several international grants for the development of medical biotechnology in Nigeria.
The NABDA boss is an astute Professor, who has 57 publications, including technical reports and scientific papers in both local and International peer reviewed journals.