…farmers in Mozambique work hard, harvest little – Fafetine
….We take the best products from Nigeria, and adopt them in Ethiopia – Prof Mekbib
By Gabriel Ewepu, ABUJA
AS food security remains the nucleus of national development, peace and prosperity of all nations, Ethiopia and Mozambique, Thursday, deemed it fit to come down to tap Nigeria’s biotechnology experience and advancement to boost food production, nutrition, availability and profitability in their countries.
This was made known at the ‘Biosafety and Biotechnology Stakeholders Meeting Agenda’, organised by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, AATF, in Abuja.
Both countries said it became imperative for them to delve into modern technologies to boost food security against scarcity, and other challenges as the population increases.
The Head of Policy and Regulatory Affairs, AATF, in Nairobi, Dr Francis Nang’ayo, lauded the breakthrough to stop devastation caused by pod boring insect called Maruca, with the launch of Pod-Borer Resistant, PBR, cowpea (aka beans) in Nigeria, described the feat as historic milestone being the first of such in Africa’s food and nutrition sector.
According to him, AATF embarked on the PBR Cowpea project for over 15 years of investment in Public Private Partnership, PPP, to develop and deliver the innovation to protect African farmers’ efforts on the field by preventing the dreaded and devastating insect attack.
The Director-General of the Mozambican Agricultural Research Institute, Olga Fafetine, in an address made it known that Mozambique food production is inadequate for the citizens as farmers work hard and harvest little.
Fafetine said: “Of course, we’re all in a hurry. We don’t have enough food for our people. The farmers work hard and harvest little. We continue to rely on food donations. Often, food given are products that have been generated using biotechnology that in our countries we have a kind of fear of adopting.
“It is necessary to continue with the investment in the establishment of demonstration fields and validation of technologies and also to initiate an investment in seed production so that when technology is released seed terms available, produced locally, to make available to farmers.
“The positive results achieved in Nigeria and the lessons learned in all other countries will positively influence the path that our country will take towards the adoption of the products generated by Biotechnology.
“We will continue to provide all locally demonstrated and proven scientific information and evidence so that biosecurity authorities, politicians and farmers are well informed to make their decisions consciously.”
Also, the President, the Ethiopia Society of Biotechnology Professor, Firew Mekbib, said: “We have a different context in Ethiopia. So we learn from Nigeria, how they are handling this and we take the best practices. It doesn’t mean that everything that you do is the best.
“We take the best products from Nigeria, adopt them in Ethiopia, and advance science and technology.”
However, he raised concern about the farmers’ view about the GM technology, “But one thing that you need to know is the only battling ground for GM technology in the world is in Africa. It is not in Asia. It is not in Europe, is not in Africa or America. So Africa cannot be battling with GM technology.”
Also, the Representative, West African, AATF, Dr Jean Baptiste, expressed optimism that biotechnology will be successful in a few years to help farmers’ productivity, especially in low-income farmer families in Africa.
“We are ensuring that the technology can be accessible by our farmers, there are some constraints that limit the dissemination of those technology to our farmers.
“But we have been trying our best to find solution in addressing some of those constraints.
“For instance, one constraint we know is that there is not enough seed enterprises that can multiply the seeds in such that it can be disseminated to our farmers.
“Actually, the National Research system, in partnership with AATF are working in such a way that we have trained national seed companies.
“So that they can multiply seeds in such a quantity that they can be easily accessed by farmers in terms of reducing the distance to accelerate to getting seed”, Baptiste said.
While giving a remark at the meeting, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, said: “I believe this is the gateway to food security.
“We must adopt the technology in order that we give the old world food security and Africa is the place that stands to give the world what it requires because we have the population and a lot of cutting useful land in Nigeria.”