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Innovations on food security win $100,000 science prize

By Chukwuma Muanya
15 September 2022   |   2:39 am
Local innovations on ensuring food security in the country by Nigerian scientists have won the $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Science 2022.

[FILES] Dollar PHOTO: AFP / Getty Images

Local innovations on ensuring food security in the country by Nigerian scientists have won $100,000 Nigeria Prize for Science 2022.

The Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) instituted the award as a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-producing company and a liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny Island, Rivers State.

The prize for science celebrates excellence in scientific breakthroughs and honours scientists from anywhere in the world, who find solutions to a local or ‘Nigerian’ problem as defined and advertised by the advisory board.

The board, led by Prof. Barth Nnaji, yesterday, at a press conference, in Lagos, announced the two most outstanding works on “Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivators under Drought and Well-Watered Conditions” by Muhydideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado and “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” by Sesan Peter Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatunji Olatomilola as winners of the $100,000 prize money.

Nnaji, a former Minister of Power, is a Nigerian engineer, innovator and one of the inventors of the E-Design concept.

Muhyideen Oyekunle, a Maize Breeder and Lecturer at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna and his colleague, Prof. Shehu Garki Ado, an agricultural expert. He is a professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding and is currently the vice chancellor of Al-Qalam University, Katsina.

Sesan Peter Ayodeji is a professor of Machine & Process Design and Applied Ergonomics at the Federal University of Technology, Akure and his colleague is Emmanuel Olatunji Olatomilola.

Referring to the judges’ report, Nnaji said the works addressed food security, which is a key component of Nigeria’s national agenda.

“At the global level, Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security. This entails improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems,” he stated.

Nnaji said the choice of the judges reflects a multi-disciplinary approach relevant to the 2022 theme.

According to Nnaji, Muhyideen Oyekunle and Shehu Ado’s work on “Gains in Grain Yield of Released Maize (Zea Mays L.) Cultivars under Drought and Well Watered Conditions” provides Nigeria with a unique opportunity.

“The maize seeds they selected courtesy of breeding programme have been tested to be high yielding and water stress tolerant. The hybrids they selected record yields of 1.73-2.51 t/ha in stress areas and 5-6 t/ha in areas with good rainfall distribution in farmers’ fields,” he said.

Nnaji said Susan Peter Ayodeji and Emmanuel Olatunji Olatomilola’s work on “Development of Process Plant for Plantain Flour” is important for reducing spoilage of farm products and package for distribution as well as value addition for farm products.

NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Andy Odeh, said the science prize is growing in strength “as the 2022 verdict depicts.”