NABDA DG, Others Maintain Biotechnology Can Transform Nigeria’s Economy

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Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha
Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha

The director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha and other stakeholders in the biotech sector have hailed biotechnology as having the potential to transform Nigeria’s economy.

They made this assertion during a stakeholder’s symposium organised by the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) on ‘Translational Biotechnology and Emerging Bioeconomy’ held in Abuja.

Mustapha who spoke at the event said that the state of affairs in the different sectors of the economy has made translational biotechnology inevitable. He said NABDA will continue to deploy research outputs to diverse sectors where it is required so that it will contribute to the national GDP.

In his remarks, the director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, reminded participants that science and technology remain the keys to economic development and that the scientists are responsible for solving the nation’s economic problems. He affirmed that the country can only attract valuable foreign earnings when more products are produced. He, therefore, charged scientists to take responsibility for producing biotechnological products.

Similarly, the former regional director, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr. Issoufou Kollo, informed the audience that biotechnology will bring lasting solutions to the numerous diseases coming up globally as it is also useful in improved agricultural production, citing an example of the Bt Cowpea and other commercialised and CFT biotech crops as a lead way to bio-economy. He urged the leaders to encourage biotechnology research.

On his part, the vice-chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University, Prof. J.K Oloke explained the possibilities of moving research to the market. He cited an example of the production of “Triodo IB”, a biotechnology product that serves as immune-booster and has been successfully used to manage different compromised body issues. He assured of his continual partnership with BSN to showcase evidence of Nigeria’s bioeconomic capacity.

The director-general, Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO), Prof. Paul Oyenekwe, said the application of science, technology and innovation have brought about economic development in other countries and, thus, can be replicated in Nigeria. He urged the researchers not to relent in their efforts, since research products will bring [about] development in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the country coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria chapter, Dr. Rose Gidado, hinted that the event was a right step in the right direction in the pursuit of sustainable economic growth and development and urged researchers to engage in translational biotechnology research and innovation to produce marketable biological products.

The keynote speaker, Prof. Bamidele Solomon, spoke explicitly on ‘Biotechnology Today, Tomorrow and Beyond’, maintained that modern biotechnology offers opportunities to produce more nutritious and better-tasting foods, higher crop yields and plants that are naturally protected from diseases and insects. “It allows for the transfer of only one or a few desirable genes, thereby permitting scientists to develop crops with specific beneficial traits and reduce undesirable traits.”

The chairman of the event, Prof. V.A. Tenebe noted that the nation and continent have been endowed with numerous bio-resources. He reasoned that the nation will get better only if researchers remain consistent and cultivate the attitude of sharing research results.

Awards were presented to both the virtual and physical attendees who, in one way or the other, have made tremendous impacts in biotechnology. Among the recipients were NABDA DG, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha and OFAB Nigeria coordinator, Dr. Rose Maxwell Gidado.

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