AS Nigeria join the rest of the world to mark this year’s #MarchForScience, stakeholders in the science and agricultural sector have called the government to explore the potentials in science to grow the agricultural sector.
The March for Science is a large flagship march being organised in New York City, with satellite marches and events, such as science town halls, rallies and outreach events, taking place in cities around the world on the same day.
The inaugural march was held on April 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C., with more than 70 satellite events and over 600 other cities across the world. The march is a celebration of passion for science and the many ways science serves our global communities.
Since its inception, Nigeria has been one of the countries that have consistently participated in the March because of its firm belief in the importance of science and the role it plays in our everyday life.
This year’s March for Science was organised by the Nigeria Alliance for Science, an affiliate of the Cornell Alliance for Science, Ithaca, USA, with support from our unit, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, Nigeria Chapter.
According to the Country Coordinator of OFAB, Dr Rose Gidado, “the march today seeks to create awareness and sensitize the populace on the need to speak up and take action in support of science and justice.
“The need for united action in support of science is because our leaders continue to delay climate action. Science continues to be sidelined at our federal agencies. Healthcare and education continue to be neglected. We need to keep making our voices heard.
“This year’s the March for Science, therefore, seeks to highlight the need for science-based climate action and healthcare, as well as the importance of science education.”
She further said “there is no gainsaying that science is revolutionary. It holds the key to constant development and improvement for addressing climate change, food shortage and challenges in medicine.
She commended the federal government for its effort in taking actions to promote environmentally friendly practices especially in the nation’s agricultural sector which according to her contributes a lot in curbing the negative effects of climate change.
“The release of dangerous pesticides into the environment during farming by farmers is very detrimental to the environment but the signing of the Biosafety Bill into Law in Nigeria gave the nation the nexus to practice modern agricultural biotechnology which is very key in fighting climate change,” Dr Gidado added.
“The recent approval by the government for the environmental release of Bt cotton and Bt cowpea would help farmers use fewer pesticides in planting these crops which invariably means less release of dangerous pesticides into the atmosphere, and more products from their farm.
“Biotechnology is the way to go because the use of genetically modified crops in the agricultural sector would the help in the reconstruction, revival and rejuvenation of the sector as well as enhance food security.
“However, despite all these landmark strides by the government, there is still a lot to do in science development especially in the area of research funding. Science research is one of the most poorly funded subsectors of the economy and for any nation that is interested in development must dedicate funds for research and innovations,” Dr Gidado noted.
Furthermore, she said “the government also needs to encourage students and studies in science. One of the great attributes of science development is catching them young. So, we also need to underscore the need for the government to encourage young students to pick interest in the sciences to groom their invention and innovation capabilities and prepare them for the future.
“Finally, The March for Science provides an opportunity for scientists and science supporters to take a stand and highlight the immense benefits available for Nigerians in science, especially in the area of agricultural biotechnology to enhance food security.
“I urge you to use this March to form useful alliances and partnerships that will change the course of history and inspire the next generation of scientists”.
The Vice President All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Chief Daniel Okafor in this submission, called on the government to expedite action in adoption and domestication of the science-based innovation to boost the agricultural sector.
He, however, assured that Nigerian farmers would support any technology that would make agriculture attractive and productive.