The Federal Government has urged other African countries to come up with a well thought out position that should strengthen the use of biotechnology for animal agriculture.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, made the call at the recent national stakeholders’ workshop on animal biotechnology and regulatory perspectives organized by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in collaboration with the African Union International Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR), Nairobi, Kenya; International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), Nairobi, Kenya, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Washington D.C, which had both virtual and physical attendance.
He said the workshop provided an opportunity for participants to discuss important issues affecting animal agriculture in Africa, pointing out that science, technology and innovation would help solve the problems of today to help build a bright and prosperous future.
In his remarks, the director-general of NABDA, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, said in animal agriculture, biotech opportunities are particularly evident in the areas of animal health, understanding genetic diversity and improving utilization of the diversity in indigenous livestock populations, improving animal nutrition and feeding, and the inter-phase between animal agriculture and human nutrition and health.
“With a population of over 200 million, animal production is a huge industry in Nigeria and it had an increased contribution of 2.38 per cent to the GDP by the fourth quarter of 2020. Indeed, animal production has proved to be one of the veritable strategies in surmounting the food security challenge. The demand for animal products in Nigeria continues to overwhelm the supply and it is believed that animal biotechnology can bridge this gap. NABDA is playing and will continue to play an active role in collaborating with stakeholders in deploying this technology to ameliorate our economic deficiencies,” he added.
The NABDA boss added that the agency remained committed in its vision of promoting biotechnology activities that positively respond to national aspirations on food security, job/wealth creation, affordable healthcare delivery, sustainable environment and industrilaisation, stressing the agency is devoted to bringing this result-oriented technology to the doorstep of every Nigerian and to harness its exponential benefits for the sustainable economic development of Nigeria.
Listing objectives of the workshop, the country coordinator of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr. Rose Gidado, said it aimed to update stakeholders on the current status and challenges of animal agriculture in Nigeria; share experiences on the global and regional status of animal biotechnology research, development and regulations; create linkages among animal biotechnology stakeholders for leveraging on knowledge, scientific infrastructure and nurturing of enabling policies.
Others include to identify country needs for animal biotechnology applications and facilitate development of a practical roadmap for steering the continent forward in line with Agenda 2063 and the ST&I Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024); and develop a draft communication framework for outreach and advocacy for animal biotechnology products.