In a bid to bolster food production and enhance food security in Nigeria, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has restated the commitment of the Federal Government to deploy biotechnology across the country.
The director-general of NABDA, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha reaffirmed this commitment during a one-day workshop themed ‘The Biotechnology and Biosafety Sensitisation Workshop for Selected Senior Editors’ held in Abuja.
Mustapha highlighted the remarkable progress that farmers in Nigeria have made in harnessing the potential of genetically modified crops. He cited the case of genetically modified cowpea, which has significantly reduced the need for insecticide spraying on bean farms. Farmers who adopted the pod borer resistant cowpea reported a drastic reduction in insecticide usage from 10 sprays to just 2 sprays, thus saving costs and promoting environmentally friendly practices.
“We have testimonies from farmers across the country who are benefiting from products of modern biotechnology, such as the pod borer resistant cowpea, which is helping farmers overcome the devastating impacts of Maruca Vitrata that cause 80 per cent destruction in the farmers’ fields,” Mustapha stated.
He further emphasised the positive impact of Bt. cotton, another innovative product of modern biotechnology, which is transforming cotton farming and offering hope for the revival of the textile industry.
The director-general assured that the Federal Government is fully committed to improving agricultural productivity and that NABDA, along with other related organisations, is working tirelessly to fast-track these efforts. Proper application of biotechnology, according to him, will not only boost Nigeria’s agricultural production and food security but will also be beneficial to other sectors of the economy.
The director of the agricultural biotechnology department at NABDA, Dr. Rose Gidado emphasised the significance of sensitising senior editors on biotechnology.
She highlighted the need to educate editors, as they play a vital role in conveying accurate information to the public and communities. Ensuring that editors understand the technology is crucial to effectively disseminate its benefits and potential impacts.
One of the participants and the managing editor, northern operation of The Nation Newspaper, Yusuf Alli shared his experience of attending the workshop.
He admitted that his perception of biotechnology crops had changed after the event, acknowledging that biotechnology holds great potential to increase crop yields in the country. He noted that embracing biotechnology could also help bridge the gap caused by the aging farming population.
The workshop served as a platform to educate and inform senior editors about biotechnology and biosafety, equipping them with accurate knowledge to convey to the public. With the government’s commitment to leveraging biotechnology for agricultural development, Nigeria aims to enhance food security, improve livelihoods for farmers, and foster sustainable agricultural practices in the country.