By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA — THE Di- rector-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Prof. Alex Akpa, has assured that the release of Bt cotton will revolutionise the nation’s ailing 250 textile firms and also boost the economy.
Apka who was speaking on the economic benefits of two Bt Cotton varieties known as MRC 7377 BG 11 and MRC7361 BG11 expressed concern over the state of the textile industry in the country, which he described as being comatose and lying prostrate for over three decades. He further stated that the two varieties will bring succour to farmers and the industries following the development of the varieties that are genetically modified cotton by Mahyco Nigeria Pet. Limited in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
According to him, the new variety has been officially registered, which has the potential of being adopted in all the cotton growing zones of the country with maturity period of 150 -160 days, and resistant to Bollworm complex including high seed cotton yield, early maturity, tolerant to suckling insect pest, and has a fibre length ranging from 30.0 to 30.5mm.
It would be recalled earlier this year, the DG disclosed that Nigeria’s first Bt Cowpea was set to be released in 2019 to farmers and will close the gap of over 500,000 metric tonnes of beans production deficit at a media conference on the Approved PBR Cowpea, held in Abuja.
He said: “I’m happy to inform you that the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Materials at its 26th meeting in Ibadan approved the official registration of 2 Bt Cotton varieties known as MRC 7377 BG 11 and MRC7361 BG11. “As was mentioned by the Chairman of the committee during the release, the registration of GM cotton is revolutionary to agricultural development in Nigeria leading to commercialisation of GM technology.
“I count this development as a milestone considering the state of our textile industry which hitherto used to be the second highest employer of labour in the country around the 60’s and the 70’s. The textile industry has been comatose due to the absence of viable raw materials hence Nigeria became dependent on other countries for textiles, leaving over 250 industries under lock and key.”
“But succour has come the way of our farmers and the industries following the development of two varieties genetically modified cotton by Mahyco Nigeria Pet. Limited in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.”
“This new variety also has a fibre strength of 26.5 to 27.0 g/tes and micronaire 3.9 to 4.1, it is highly viable when compared to the local alternative, the yields is higher as it gives 4.1-4.4 Tonnes/ha while the local variety is 600 to 900kg.”
Meanwhile, the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology, OFAB Nigeria, has explained that the farmer benefits by the application of Biotechnology in Agriculture through increased productivity or reduced cost by increasing yield, improving protection from insects and disease, increasing their crops’ tolerance to heat, drought, and other environmental stress.
According to the National Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria, Dr Rose Gidado, the processor in the value chain benefits from improved quality and content of animal feed, food and energy sources including consumer benefits are advantages such as increased protein, healthier oils (Learn about Vistive Gold soybean oil). “Environmental benefits help reduce agriculture’s impact on the land, conserve soil and energy, reduce greenhouse gases, minimise use of toxic herbicides, conserve soil fertility and natural resources.