Food security: Agency advises FG to invest in modern biotechnology
The Deputy Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Dr Rose Gidado has called on the federal government to invest in modern biotechnology, to enable the country develop its genes and crops locally in other to boost food production.
Gidado, who is also the Nigerian Country Coordinator, Open Forum for National Biotechnology also said in an interview in Lagos on Saturday that there was also the need for investments in advanced laboratories, with state of the art facilities, where it would be easy to construct local genes.
“We need the federal government to invest huge amounts of money into modern biotechnology practice, so that we will be able to do our own genes construct in Nigeria”, she said.
According to her, modern biotechnology practice encompassed having the equipment to develop genetic and modified crops (GMOs) construction in the country.
She said that more investments in biotechnology practice would develop local indigenous crops like maize, rice and cassava, pointing out that genes construct were currently being donated by Western multinationals companies that have the funds to do it.
Gidado said that if the country were to establish and invest in its own laboratory, it can do a lot indigenously and not wait for donations.
“With the right investment, we can have advance laboratories with state of the art facilities where it will be easy to do our own genes construct and develop our indigenous crops so that food security will be enhanced,’’ she said.
Gidado cited research and development as the bedrock of every economy, adding that Nigeria must not be left behind and that even though the country was on track on technology, it still needed funding.
She said that without adequate investments in research and development, there would be no sustainability and the economy will not improve.
“Research and development is a foundation and bedrock of every economy; we must learn to invest in it, otherwise, we will not get there. For us in Nigeria, to really get there, our government must invest and we will be able to do our own gene construct.
“They are donated to Africa. If we have the laboratory, we can do indigenously and not wait for donors. We must learn to put in money in our agencies,” she said.
Gidado said countries like Indian, Brazil and Argentina had moved ahead of Nigeria in terms of research and development and urged the government to emulate them.
According to her, India had moved ahead of us, they had gone far ahead, especially in terms of drug development, because they invested in biotechnology. They have a lot of pharmaceutical companies.
“Brazil too has gone ahead, most of our poultry entrepreneurs prefer to import maize from Brazil because it is cheaper.
“Technology reduces production costs and farmers will not have to spend so much money in spraying and buying chemicals for their farms,” she noted.
The deputy director said that the country lacked developed and improved seeds, due to lack of technology as obtained in developed countries.
She said farmers spent so much money on fumigation and chemicals, because of lack of access to improved quality seeds.
“In Nigeria, we spend so much producing our maize and other crops, we spend so much because the seeds are not developed seeds, and they are not improved seeds.
“When you plant them your productivity will be low, you spend so much money spraying and at the end of the day, farmers don’t get so much yields.
“So when farmers want to sell it, they have to recuperate that money that have spent on cultivation and that is why maize is more expensive in Nigeria.
“Over there in Brazil and Argentina because they use the technology, most of the crops there are already developed for one thing or the other, so most of the product over there are relatively cheap.
“With technology, food is available and cheaper; once there is availability, cheapness comes in and there will be no hunger.
Gidado advised government to embrace technology as the agricultural sector cannot thrive without technology and mechanisation.
“If we take this technology by the horn, put in money and develop our crops, food will be available. Once we have this technology, we will not complain about availability of rice, maize cassava,’’ she said.