As Nigeria’s agricultural sector setback hangs on lack of infrastructure, insecurity and negative impact of climate change, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) is offering new tools for increasing agricultural productivity and protection for food crops from climate changes,such as, heat, floods and drought.
The stakeholders addressed the need to develop crops that are more resistant to pest, drought, weed infestation and disease to combat all sort of deficiency, adding that, the Biosafety regulatory system will open doors for crops with economic potential to grow the nation’s GDP.
Established in 2021, NABDA seeks to promote, commercialise and regulate biotechnology products.
Speaking on the sideline of a one day Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety Sensitisation Workshop, the director, Agricultural Biotechnology Development, (NABDA), Rose M Gidado, said currently, the government is advancing agricultural biotechnology as a tool to achieve food security in the country.
Gidado while speaking on biotechnology workshop event for Senior Editors organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria Chapter, an initiative of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) under the auspices of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Lagos with the theme.
‘The Role of Editors in Communicating Agricultural Biotechnology’ said, on October 8, 2020, the NBMA approved the cultivation of TELA maize, (drought tolerance and insect resistance).
The director said Nigerian agriculture is especially vulnerable to climate change and its associated occurrences of higher temperatures, extended droughts, floods, and other circumstances, reducing agricultural production across the country, particularly, in the Northern States.
“Biotechnology offers new tools for increasing agricultural productivity and protecting food crops from climate changes such as heat, floods, and drought,” she said.
Dr Gidado said the use of biotechnology tools in Nigerian agriculture is now necessary due to the current state of emergency in the country’s food and agricultural sector, adding that, to date, no evidence of safety or health risks has been linked to the two commercial biotech crops, Bt Cotton and PBR Cowpea, which are already available on the market.
She also explained that, no trace of ill health or safety concerns have been traced to the already two commercialised biotech crops, Bt-cotton, and BR Cowpea in the market.
Also speaking, director general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Yemisi Asagbra said, its sector has engaged in public engagement and enlightenment programmes, synergy among stakeholders for effective regulation of GMOs and their products and have achieved safety in the use of modern biotechnology by providing a holistic approach in the regulation of genetically modified organisms.
Meanwhile, Communication officer, African Agricultural Technology Foundation, (AATF), Alex Abutu, said, by using genetic engineering techniques, scientists can develop crops that are more resistant to pest and disease, have a larger shelf life, and are more nutritious.