By Emmanuel Elebeke
If biotechnology application becomes firm in Nigeria, the country will generate additional economic output of $11.6 billion, Monsanto President has said.
Mr. Jose Manuel Madero, the President and Managing Director, Monsanto Company, Europe, Middle East and Africa, EMEA, stated this at a stakeholders meeting/dinner organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, OFAB, during a visit from the European delegation led by the EMEA.
Madero President promised to assist Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda from farming to engine of economic growth, saying that vision 2020 will be an engine of economic growth of Nigeria, when biotechnology is fully rooted into the nation’s agricultural sector.
According to him, farmers need to access biotechnology anywhere in the world and it would be left to them to decide whether to use it or not.
“Monsanto is not new in Africa, we are in sixteen (16) locations in Africa, Burkina Faso now has huge agricultural transformation while in South Africa, 95 per cent of farmers are into biotech”, he said.
“We also invest in research and technology that can improve life as well as invest $4 million a day to bring technology to farmers,” he explained. He further highlighted other EMEA activities focused on Africa, to include commercial crops, such as Cotton, maize & vegetables; cowpea trait donation in Western Africa; improving maize and vegetable value chains in Tanzania and partnering with local NGOs.
Others are farmer groups, research organizations and the Tanzanian government built to help improve hybrid maize and vegetable value-chains in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, SAGCOT, which help by improving productivity, reducing waste, improving soil health and enhancing economic opportunity for Tanzanian farmers.
According to him, the company is also involved in transferring technology to improve cassava in Uganda and Kenya; in partnership with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the National Root Crops Research Institute in Uganda and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, as well as supporting local NGOs to fight hunger and improve nutrition.
In his remark, the Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof. Robert Boroffice, expressed optimism that President Goodluck Jonathan will be anxious to sign the Biosafety Bill for the interest of the country.
“I see no reason why the President will not assent to the Bill, he is anxious to see that food production is improved in the country and to ensure that more people are employed in the agricultural industry which, biosafety can lead,” he assured.
“I say it again, I can speak authoritatively that Mr. President will be anxious to enact a Bio-safety law, when he gets the passed bill before him, for the interest of the country, he will sign. So that Monsanto and other countries can come to Nigeria to assist us in boosting agricultural production not only in food but also in area of cotton, cowpea, maize, tomatoes.
“You can imagine the number of farmers that will be employed or agro-industry that will emerge and increase productivity ten times, twenty times and hundred times,” he added.