THE Acting Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Alex Akpa has said it would be impossible for Nigeria to feed its growing population with the conventional farm practice of hoe and cutlass.
Professor Akpa said it has become imperative for the country to adopt and deploy science in order to improve agricultural productivity and put money in the pockets of local farmers.
The NABDA DG disclosed this at the 3rd edition of the Open Forum on Agriculture Biotechnology (OFAB), 2019 Media Award, in Abuja.
Highlighting some of the achievements recorded in developing crop varieties that would improve productivity, he said “BT cotton can give from 4.2 tons per hectare to 4.5 tons per hectare while the traditional variety gives 250 to 750 kilogram per hectare. You can see the wide margin.
“No wonder our textile industry which spread from Kano to Lagos and Aba have collapsed completely or moribund, which is because of inadequate supply of cotton which is the major raw material for textile industry.
“So, you can see that this technology is important. There is no way Nigeria can feed its population of over 200 million depending on the traditional hoe and knife type of agriculture. It is impossible.
“The BT cowpea was developed here in Nigeria in collaboration with the Institute of Agriculture Research (IAR) Zaria”.
He explained that the BT cowpea variety was developed to resist Maruca Vitrata which is a pest that damage over 80 per cent of cowpea on farm.
The Country Coordinator of OFAB, Dr Rose Gidado in her address, said the award was organised annually to encourage journalits to do their best.
She said “this award, which is the 3rd of its kind celebrated annually across the seven OFAB host countries in Africa- Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and Burkina Faso is aimed at recognizing the talents and efforts of journalists so as to motivate them to shine in their reportage of modern biotechnology.
“On this premise, OFAB Africa organizes an award ceremony every year to encourage journalists and motivate them to do their best. Hence we are here to give away this year’s awards in three categories, namely Best TV, Best Radio and Print.
The awards to be presented today are not just for recognizing those journalists who have performed “exceptionally well in their reportage, but also to honor those who are proactive and have contributed greatly to deepening the understanding of modern biotechnology in the country in the last one year.
“Over the last few years, the media has been an ally in the communication of credible scientific facts surrounding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). They have worked with us in demystifying genetic modification technology and encouraging our people, especially farmers, grassroots communities, civil society groupsm lawmakers, judiciary and policy makers on the power, as well as the efficacy of the technology”, Dr Gidado said”.
She, however, said science and technology has the potential to address issues bothering on agriculture, climate, health and environment.
“In this century, applying innovation technology will take us farther than we had gone before. Science and technology have a great potential to drive the kind of change we want to see on our continent.
“Thus science and technology are at the base of solving our most pertinent problems, be they climate change, food insecurity, health, among others, towards ensuring sustainable development in Africa.
We must make use of science and technology to make Nigeria greater than she is today.
“The successful environmental/commercial approval and adoption of two genetically modified crops, cotton and cotton are proof that Nigerians want a better country and won’t be distracted by myth that have been proven false, time and again.
“There is no developed country of The world that has achieved any meaningful societal development without science, technology and its innovators. The African continent’schance to benefit from these technologies however lies heavily on its ability to efficiently communicate its potential benefits, she added.