By Chimezie Godfrey
Stakeholders in the nation’s Agricultural Sector, have demanded for more research funding to address the challenges hampering the application of biotechnology in boosting food sufficiency amid covid-19 pandemic.
This was part of the resolution reached at a virtual media summit on Friday in Abuja, tagged: “The Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research in Nigeria.”
The program organized by the Nigeria Chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, OFAB, was designed to provide update on the status, challenges and solutions to food crisis in the country.
The Acting Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, prof Alex Akpa, maintained that applying science to agricultural system, remained the potential way out to food Security.
“The country’s economy is already ravaged with covid -19 pandemic, and so there is urgent need for stakeholders to re-strategize, develop and implement a framework for biosafety.
“The farmers must be tested with covid 19 test kits to ensure they are safe from the virus, because they are the one’s handling the food materials, once they are infected, our crops are also infected, we are planning to carry out testing on five million farmers, this is very important.
“We already have an on going strong vaccine development program, although we are yet to conclude with it, we need funding, especially at this period to enable us equally develop a vaccine that will end this pandemic”
“We have recorded some progress in our science research, currently Nigeria have been able to develop cassava plus and cowpea, which is undergoing trials in the united States Plant Danforth Center, but our challenge is funding we can do more,”he said.
The Program Leader, Biotechnology Research and Executive Director of the Institute of Agricultural Research, IAR, of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Prof. Ishiyaku Faguji called for effective communication of the biotechnology tools to farmers to enhance food production.
An Economist, Prof Dayo Phillip, while speaking on crop innovation contribution to covid-19 food sufficiency, stressed the need for increased supply of cowpea during and after the pandemic.
He noted that the country stands to gain seventy-one naira from every one naira invested on Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea and also capable of gaining up to one hundred and sixty two billion in six years.
The president of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim advised the Federal Government to explore available opportunities in the agricultural sector to upscale food production towards averting hunger in the country.
Earlier in her opening remark, the Country Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria Chapter, Dr Rose Gidado, said several research scientific findings had pointed out that science communication remains the key to enabling environment for agricultural biotechnology adoption.
Gidado called for more media reportage on agricultural biotechnology as well as more enlightenment for farmers on its product to achieve zero hunger before 2030.