BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR.
Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology [OFAB] Nigeria, has tasked the Federal Government to deploy agricultural biotechnology for enhanced food production to guarantee food security in the country.
Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator of OFAB Nigeria, who gave the task on Thursday at the 2018 National Seed Fair/ Farmers Field Day in Abuja, explained that biotechnology is very useful in the areas of health, industry, environment and agriculture.
Her words: “We all know that it is the technology that is very useful. The technology is safely applied in four different sectors of the economy.
“In the area of health,for better medicines, in the area of industry, for environmental sustainability and in the area of agriculture.
“Of course, the application of this technology in agriculture is the improvement of seeds, so that f farmers can have access to quality and improved seeds.
“Seeds that can withstand the weather condition, global warming arising from temperature, seeds that can be resistant to pests and insects, drought tolerant, flood tolerant and nutritional enhanced.”
She asserted that there is no way agriculture would be treated as a business in the country without the deployment of agricultural biotechnology.
“There is no way we are going to take agriculture as business without the deployment of science and technology. Of course, we are talking about biotechnology application,” Gidado said.
According to her, agricultural biotechnology has been safely used in the United States of America, Brazil, Japan, India, China, South Africa and Sudan, adding that this technology has been used in these countries for over 20 years without any health implications or risks.
She further explained that regulatory framework has been put in place in Nigeria, following the establishment of the National Bio-safety Management Agency [NBMA] in 2015.
She added that NBMA is saddled with responsibility of ensuring that this technology is safely practised in the country.
Gidado further revealed that two varieties of cotton have been released for commercialisation, so as to ensure that farmers have access to them for bumper harvests.
According to her, “Two varieties of cotton that have been released have high yields. They yield 4.1 to 4.4 tonnes. The conventional one only yields 250 to 900 kg. So, we can see the margin between the improved and non-improved cotton.
“There is no way we can talk about economic diversification without agriculture and there is no way we are going to talk about agriculture as a business without the use of appropriate technology.
“The controversies of the application of this technology to agriculture, we all know about them. There are safety verves in place in Nigeria.”
Gidado also posited that farmers would be free from poverty and subsistence agriculture if they embrace the application of biotechnology.