March 22, 2018

Nigeria to use biotechnology to improve crops

Food Security: NALDA moves to reactivate 1,200 hectares farmland in Ekiti

File: farmers

Dr Rose Gidado, the Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), says Nigeria has concluded plans to use biotechnology as tool to improve agricultural produce and spur economic development.

Gidado made the disclosure on Thursday to Newsmen in Abuja.

According to her, the measure will go a long way to enable Nigeria employ biotechnology to attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feed its growing population.

“With this modern technology, we can create employment in line with the goals of the Federal Government.

“Also, with biotechnology, we can grow our economy beyond mere sustenance to the point of becoming a global major player in food exportation.’’

Gidado said before the end of 2018, “Bt Cowpea and Bt Cotton’’ as biotechnology products in Nigeria would be in market.

She said the products had passed through all the experimental trial stages successfully, ready to enter market when both international and national regulatory agencies gave their approval.

“Once the approval is given, the products will be released to Varietal Release Committee and once it is approved by the committee then the next thing is commercialisation.

“From there, the foundation seed, breeder seed will be multiplied and then our local seed companies will come into play. That is where they will take over before the distribution of the seeds.’’

According to her, the agencies to give approval include National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), World Health Organisation WHO, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and Organisation for Economic Community Development (OECD).

Gidado said the modern technology had potential of reducing pest problems with economic and environmental benefits when correctly used.

“Though the best technology is used in the production of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) but this can only be done within the confines of the law to ensure that the GMOs have no adverse effects.

“As a giant of Africa, once Nigeria gets it right, it will change the face of Africa in the area of GMOs, “ she said.

She said the Federal Government established NBMA in order to ensure the safety of the products both to human and animal health as well as the environment.

NBMA was established in 2015 with the responsibility to create and monitor the biosafety standards that must be met in order to prevent any accidental release of potentially harmful biological materials.