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Food sufficiency: FG urges agric operators to apply biotechnology

To achieve food security and provide raw materials for the nation’s agro-based industries, the federal government has advised local and foreign operators in bio-factory sugar manufacturing in the country to avail themselves of application of biotechnology.

Speaking at the official commissioning of the C sugarcane biofactory in Ilorin on Monday, the executive secretary, NSDC, Mr. Latif Busari, said that such patronage would not only help them to get the best quality cane seeds but help the industry and the nation at large to move to next level of development.

Busari, who said that application of biotechnology in agricultural development in Nigeria is necessary to achieve food security and provide raw materials for the nation’s agro-based industries, added that the sugar industry is part of the larger picture.

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He also said that government the facility in Zaria, Kaduna state and Ilorin, Kwara state, were capable of contributing their quota to the attainment of national sugar master plan goals.

The NSDC boss, who said that both biofactories could produce one million seedlings annually, added that their facilities and same procedures could be used for rapid multiplication of many other crop seedlings such as banana/plantain, pineapple, citrus, cut flowers, etc.

Also speaking, minister of state for industry, trade, and investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, emphasized the need for crop productivity enhancement in order to achieve rapid development of the nation’s local sugar industry.

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Represented by Perm Sec in the ministry, Sunday Akpan, the minister said that, “What this means is that if we aim at large scale production of sugarcane we would consequently require large quantity of quality planting materials. And for this purpose, the conventional system of propagation will not only be inefficient but also less desirable as a result of possible pathogenic infection which affects yields.

“Tissue culture techniques (or micropropagation), a biotechnology approach, can overcome these problems by providing mass uniform, disease-free plantlets within a relatively short time frame. Adoption of this biotechnology will have positive twin effects on both our local sugar industry and the national economy.

“The biofactory presents an opportunity to solve a critical problem facing sugar estates and sugarcane growers by providing more productive and sustainable planting materials. It is a proactive approach to alleviating problems of sugarcane production in Nigeria.

“The NSDC sugarcane Biofactory now employs biotechnological techniques in producing clean sugarcane plantlets to serve its clientele across the country”.

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