Science minister reiterates FG’s commitment to improved farming technologies

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, has reiterated Federal government’s commitment to make available and accessible to farmers, improved technologies that will enhance yields and income, which, in turn will improve their livelihood.

Onu who stated this on Tuesday in Abuja in his address on the occasion of MAHYOCO Transgenic BG2 Cotton Hybrids Farmers Field Day, said the Hybrids were released in Nigeria by the National Varietal Committee on the 26th of July 2018 at the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB).

 “The two Hybrids namely Mahyco C 567 BG2 and Mahyco C 571 BG2 were developed to resist attack by bolly worm complex, which hampers cotton production and has been a nightmare to our farmers.This pest has singularly contributed to cotton yield reductions on our farmers’ farms.

“As a government and its agencies, our resolve is to make available and accessible to farmers improved technologies that will enhance their yields and income, thereby improving their livelihood.

“One such economically viable and environmentally sound solution to the problem of the cotton boll worm infestation is to develop cotton varieties that have inherent attribute to resist the lepidopteran pink boll worm,” he said.

The Minister pointed out that this was the first of its kind in the history of transgenic crops in Nigeria, adding that this has been made possible by collaboration of lead institutions which include the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), NABDA, the Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), and the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), among others.

He said that the government will ensure to take policy measures that will enhance the accessibility of products and technology to the farming community, for immediate and large-scale adoption.

He called on national and international and lead Nigerian institutes to make similar impacts with breakthrough agricultural technologies on other major crops to usher in a much needed green revolution in Nigeria.

The Director General/CEO, National Biotechnology Agency, Alex Akpa in his address said the on occasion of the ‘Farmers Field Day’ is aimed at demonstrating the value and performance of these Hybrids and technology which is a replication of the field performance experienced by farmers across 12 states in Nigeria.

Akpa said the field day also serve to access the excitement generated among cotton farmers on the seed performance (with Yield potential of 4.1-4,4) tones/ha) which may serve as a stimulant to the government to initiate  necessary action for widespread adoption of Mahyco Cotton BG2 Hybrid seeds by the farming communities in the cotton growing states.

“We count this as a great achievement because for years five years,scientists have labored under laboratory conditions to proffer solutions to the destructive effects of pink bollworm on our farms and the associated low yield.

“To generate yields at economically viable scales for the Nigerian farmer, of course, it has become necessary to use advanced technology tool like genetic engineering in crop production, ”he said.

He noted that many great countries of the world have adopted various aspects of genetic engineering to meet challenges in crop production, health and environment.