Local production will curb extreme poverty, epidemics, says Onu
The Minster of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has emphasised the need for Nigeria to engage in local production to help boost the economy and solve many challenges ravaging the country.
He said there is no reason for Nigeria to continue spending huge money in importing herbal products from other countries, “ when we can use the herbs we have here in Nigeria.”
The minister stated this during his one-day working visit to the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), and the commissioning of the agency’s several projects at the weekend, which had in attendance science and technology development agencies across country.
Onu said herbal products constitute a very big multi-billion dollar market globally, adding that manufacturing the products locally would help created jobs for citizens, provide employment opportunities and wealth for the nation as well as help the country in solving many of the problems it is facing presently.
“What is happening now is that we depend so much on other countries, many of the things we need as a nation we import from outside and this is not good for our economy and that is why we can’t have job opportunities for our people. There is too much pressure on our currency because every thing need, we must bring from outside, but imagine a situation where we start producing locally, the way the other countries do their things, they are not better than Nigeria, and we have the brightest minds in the world.
“We believe that this can help us build new startups in the country. We can now have Small and Medium Enterprises, even Micro and families can start producing some of these herbal products and this is one way to make sure that, not only would we find jobs for our people, but we will fight and defeat extreme poverty and eliminate epidemic,” he added.
While commissioning the projects executed by the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency, Onu stressed that “No nation has ever in the history of humanity become great without science and technology” adding that it is very important as it affects every part of human existence.
He said the Economic and Growth Plan 2017-2020 document emphasised on science and technology at the centre of all economic activities, which can only be achieved with locally produced products, that would also engage graduates by providing jobs and helping the country fight off poverty.
Presenting the NNMDA five-year strategic plan (2019-2023) for local production, Onu stressed on the need for increased funding for agencies to boost production, as they can help put Nigeria on the map by finding solutions to problems, which he said would attract foreign investors.
He commended the agency for executing the projects, which would fill the gap of training and data generation as well as technology transfer.
In his remark, the Director General, NNMDA, Dr. Samuel Etatuvie said the purpose of establishing the agency was to improve traditional medicines and working with the practitioners to identify medicinal, aromatic and pesticidal plants.
Speaking on agencies projects, he lauded the minster for his support in ensuring the capital budget allocation for the agency was increased by the government, which he said has been utilised in the execution of the projects commissioned.
Etatuvie said the multipurpose hall will not only boost in-house training activities, but will also enhance internally generated revenue, while the upgraded Pilot Drug Development Unit is critical to the agency’s natural product development effort, hence it’s ability to meet the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)/regulatory requirements for listing of its product.
He said the flagship project, which is the Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO) is fully linked with global research organisation in the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, India, China among other foreign countries, noting that its accruing benefit in research institutes include: patent acquisition and commercialisation in pursuance of the nation’s effort to move the economy from a resource based economy to a knowledge based economy.
The Director General, further, announced that six of the agency’s products are at the final stage of NAFDAC’s product listing process, which he said is a critical step towards commercialisation of the products and enhancing the economy.