The Director-General/CEO of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, has said that Nigeria’s primitive agricultural practices are facing various challenges, adding that only science and technology holds the key to overcoming these challenges.
The DG, while speaking at the 5th edition of the OFAB media awards in Abuja, said the agricultural biotechnology sector in the country is undergoing a rapid transformation with scientists and researchers working round the clock to improve various crops.
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He said: “so far, we have made progress with three crops: Cotton, Cowpea and Maize.
“Cotton and Cowpea are already with farmers while Maize will get to the farmers in one and a half years’ time, it has already been de-regulated by the National Biosafety Management Agency, meaning the genes of insert have been certified safe by the agency.”
Prof Mustapha said the next phase of commercialisation is very crucial to the successes already recorded, stressing that the many years of research and advocacy will be in vain if the country fails to get the products to farmers.
“The federal government has fully recognised agricultural biotechnology as one of the pillars that will make meaningful contributions to our quest for a food secured Nigeria, hence the establishment of necessary research institutions and regulatory agencies to ensure that the country takes maximum advantage of the tools of science and technology for national development,” he said.
He said the Nigerian government must encourage its scientists to continue to work for the good of the country and the people.
“We have over 16 research institutes all over the country with the mandate to improve various crops.
“These institutes must be encouraged to carry out their mandates in order to ensure that the country attains self-sufficiency in quality food production,” he emphasised.