‘Why farmers should adopt biotechnology for improved agricultural production’
Director-General of the agency, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha, made the call at the opening of a capacity building workshop for media practitioners and extension workers in Kano.
The biotechnology agency boss, who revealed the significant contribution of technologies in agricultural growth evidence in developed countries, stressed that Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind in the scientific revolution.
Abdullahi, who spoke on the challenges of food deficit Nigeria contends with due to the low capacity of farmers and the impact of climate change on soil fertility, insisted that the country must embrace new technologies to guarantee food security.
The DG reminded that Nigeria made history as the first country in Africa and the world at large to develop and release cowpea variety, that is resistant to the notorious Pod Borer. He assured that the technologies will promote the economic growth and production capacity of smallholder farmers in the nation.
He said: “Today, the population of our farming communities is seriously under threat, the use of hoe and cutlass is also becoming a great challenge and our population is not reducing but increasing geometrically. We, therefore, need to embrace technologies as one of the most strategic options to feed our people.
“Modern biotechnology tools have helped other countries of the world turn around their agricultural sector, enhanced food and nutritional security, profited their farmers and attracted the younger generation to farming, Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“We advocate for a responsible technology deployment that will guarantee high yield, keep pest and diseases away, bring about bumper harvest, increase the income of our farmers and at the same time guarantee safety.”
Abdullahi, who drawn the attention of journalists to the deliberate activities of some critics of the Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), using the media to discredit already established scientific proof, wanted the media to ensure credible fact about GMO before publishing stories.
He declared that the Federal Government agency is responsible for promoting biotechnology activities that positively respond to national aspirations on food security, job/wealth creation, affordable healthcare delivery, and a sustainable environment.
Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Mrs. Rose Gidado, explained that the training organised by OFAB was intended to provide accurate and updated information about biotechnology in Nigeria.
With a special focus on journalists, Gidado disclosed that the target was to strengthening the capacity and knowledge of media practitioners on the reality and impact of biotechnology development in Nigeria.
While identifying the existence of some anti-GM interest group, whose motive was to spread unsubstantiated scientific proof about the technologies, Gidado pointed out that the training was deliberately anchored to demystify such concepts.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from representatives of various national dailies, broadcast journalists and agricultural extension workers.
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