The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Abdullahi Mustapha says the application of modern biotechnology will propel Africa towards nutrition security.
Professor Mustapha stated this at a one-day sensitisation workshop organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria chapter, under the auspices of NABDA, in collaboration with the Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Federal University Ado-Ekiti and the Ekiti State government.
It aims to increase stakeholders’ awareness of the benefits of Bt cowpea, maize and cotton.
He said the workshop was also to promote the planting of Bt cowpea and cotton across Nigeria and to provide effective agricultural extension support to accelerate farmers’ adoption and enhance market and consumer acceptance.
Speaking on the topic “Biotechnology and Biosafety Approach towards Solving Problem of Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Nigeria”, Professor Mustapha highlighted the revolutionary impact of modern biotechnology through genetic engineering, which has been discovered over 50 years ago.
The Director-General, who Cited Nigeria as an example, pointed out that the breakthrough in the country’s first genetically modified Pod Borer-Resistant (PBR) cowpea was transforming food production in Nigeria.
He stressed that the transgenic crops have shown no ill-health effects on humans and animals, as some were already in the Nigerian market with great benefits to local farmers through a reduction in insecticide usage.
He, however, urged the participants to embrace the technology and sensitize others at the grassroots so as to create wealth and fight hunger and poverty in the country.
Professor Mustapha also told the stakeholders that other transgenic crops, such as TELA maize and BT soybean, were already in the pipeline for commercialisation.
The NABDA boss reiterated the agency’s commitment to deploy safe biotechnology tools to revolutionise food production, not only in Nigeria but also across the entire African continent, with continuous training for farmers and other stakeholders on adopting the cutting-edge technology.
“While I applaud our partners and other key players contributing to the success of the adoption and deployment of biotechnology in Nigeria, I implore all participants at this workshop to embrace this technology and sensitize others at the grassroots so that together, we will grow wealth and fight hunger and poverty in the nation,” he added.
The workshop focused on major steps for the harnessing of the potential of biotechnology, aimed at improving food security and fostering economic growth in Nigeria and the wider African continent.
Reporting by Rabi Momoh; Editing by Daniel Adejo and Tony Okerafor