The Director General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, has stated that modern biotechnology tools offer great potential to enhance agricultural productivity, food and nutritional security, and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.
This is even as OFAB trains farmers and agricultural extension agents from North Central on biosafety and biotechnology sensitization in Abuja on Thursday,
While giving his keynote address during the training, Mustapha, said transformation of Agriculture in Africa requires a new approach focusing on Science, Technology and Innovations to increase productivity for food security, and generating surplus for trade and export.
According to him, modern biotech provides in agriculture tools for adapting and modifying crops, animals microorganisms, products, processes and systems found in nature to develop processes that are eco-efficient and products that are not only more profitable but also more environment-friendly.
“It is also providing an increasing range of tools for industry to continue improving cost and environmental performance beyond what could normally be achieved using conventional technologies.
It is also proving its worth as a technology that can contribute to sustainable industrial development.”
He however said just like most technologies, biotechnology is not immune to risk, but that feeding the world without destroying the planet is an urgent and critical challenge that will require using every possible tool in the toolbox.
He said biotechnology tools have the potential to revolutionise Agriculture and is therefore certainly not a tool to turn Africans back on.
Also speaking, the Country Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria Chapter Dr. Rose M. Gidado, said the training was to implement outreach and awareness framework, based on evidence, and promote modern
biotechnology and biosafety to engender public trust in regulatory decision-making.
She said the existing modern biotechnology research capacity opportunities and limitations in Nigeria and explore policy will also be discussed.
“Investment in awareness creation on agric biotechnology issues will deliver multiple positive responses. There is the need to unbundle the application of this technology for national growth to secure popular support from the masses,” she said.
Speaking on Key Progress in Biotechnology Regulation and Approvals in Nigeria, the director General and Chief Executive Officer, National Biotechnology Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba, assured the farmers that biotechnology is safe.
Adding that large and long-term investments have been made in several countries in Africa to access, develop and commercialize safe biotechnology crops derived through modern biotechnology and Nigeria is not far from taking the lead in Africa.
The newly released Bt. Cotton varieties have the potentials of revamping the comatose textile industry by boosting cotton production in Nigeria.
“Increasing crop yield to meet current and future demand of the world population requires a multi-combinatorial approach and biotechnology forms the backbone,” he said.