OFAB gives update on agricultural biotechnological research

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OFAB

THE Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria Chapter and the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), held a national media summit to update media practitioners on the status of agricultural biotechnology research in Nigeria.

The summit, a webinar event, organised to keep media practitioners abreast of the latest research works had in attendance prominent scientists, agricultural biotechnologists, among others.

Prof. Alex Akpa, the Director-General of the NABDA, in his opening remarks, said scientists were working on the long shelf life of tomatoes.

He said that after harvesting, farmers and marketers suffer between 30 percent to 40 percent loss in transit, hence the need for tomatoes with long shelf life.

Akpa said that researchers were also working on herbicide-tolerant soybean, in partnership with Michigan State University in the United States.

He said that 56 samples were sent, which they were trying to multiply in order to do field trials before eventually transferring to farmers in Nigeria.

“We also have our Microbial Culture Collection (MCC), which was located in the University of  Port Harcourt, Rivers.

According to him, the MCC centre is Nigeria’s heritage for medical, environmental and industrial applications.

“The facility is very important; we have been on it for quite some time. It is where we can archive and domicile some of our important micro-organisms,’’ Akpa said.

He also spoke about the sperm bank for livestock located in NABDA, a project being executed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, other groups and private companies involved in livestock and animal husbandry.

“This is one research area we are interested in strongly because we need to reduce these herder-farmers clashes.

“We need to support and encourage people to domesticate and do ranching with the technology that can assist in that,’’ he said.

He also gave update on vaccine development programme, as well as the recently validated RNASwift diagnostic kit for COVID-19.

Earlier, Dr Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator for OFAB in Nigeria, said Nigeria with a projected population of 400 million people by 2050, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was faced with the risk of decreased farming population.

She also said that as a result of decreased arable land and use of conventional method of agriculture, sustainable food supply cannot be guaranteed.

“Only biotech holds solution to our food security. Agric biotech in most developed countries like USA, Brazil, Canada among others have transformed farming into a profitable business.

“With the current state of agriculture in Nigeria, we should also adopt this technology to improve our productivity,’’ she said.

She hinted that research findings had highlighted science communication as one of the variables that was required for the creation of an enabling environment for agricultural biotechnology adoption and usage.

She said effective science communication and awareness to debunk unscientific myths about agric biotech and its tools had moved away from being urgent to an emergency.

She said this was because many poor countries that agric biotech was supposed to benefit the most were being deprived due to false information.

Gidado listed the objectives of the summit to include improving biotechnology reporting in the media, capacity building of media practitioners, to enhance the scope of biotechnology reasoning of the media, among others. (NAN)

– Jul. 24, 2020 @ 16:35 GMT |

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