By EMMANUEL ELEBEKE
The advice was that Nigerian should learn to key into world best practices by adopting the latest technology if they must realise their dream of achieving food sufficiency in 2015.
Views of several participants who are mainly experts and Agriculture majors were that the nation must begin to adopt the modern technology in mass production of food as it obtains in other economies that have attained the feat of food sufficiency rather than allowing the farmers to keep relying on yesterday’s technology.
However, one way they advocated Nigeria could easily overcome the dangers of relying on old technology was by adopting biotechnology in the country, even though the bill is yet to be passed into law by the legislators.
Biotechnology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products, or “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.
Biotechnology crops were first commercialised in 1996 in USA. Since then, the planting of biotechnology crops increased every single year between 1996 and 2013, with 12 years of double digit growth rates, reflecting the confidence and trust of millions of risk-averse farmers around the world.
Another worry was that Nigeria is yet to establish a legal framework, without which the commercialisation of biotechnology in the country becomes impossible.
In her keynote address, one of the experts, Prof. Oyebiodun Longe said there is need to increase food production substantially giving that the problem of food scarcity in Africa had become of great magnitude.
For Longe, developing technology that can help African farmers increase yield per hectare and produce crops with improved quality traits could be a way out of food shortage, malnutrition and poverty.
But in her remarks, the Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu said the size and population of Nigeria calls for additional support by African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, the soul initiator and sponsor of OFAB.