NABDA Repositions to Make Nigeria Food Secure

By Onche Odeh

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has unveiled some of the steps it has taken towards repositioning the agency to make Nigeria a food secure nation.

Some of these plans, as announced on Thursday by the Director General of the Agency, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha during a media parley organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria Chapter in Abuja include engagements with several institutions to raise the level of adoption and application of modern technologies in agriculture.

Buoyed by the NABDA Act, 2022, which was signed into law less than one year ago, Prof Mustapha said the Agency has been offered the requisite framework to carry out research as well as create public awareness to encourage private sector participation in the biotechnology industry in Nigeria.

According to him, the development has moved NABDA from the mere realm of a development agency to that of a research institution, adding that it has strategically repositioned it to pursue its mandate of driving national development by ethically harnessing applications of biotechnology.

“As an agency, we are fully aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s declaration of a state of emergency on food security,” Prof Mustapha said, adding that NABDA, in collaboration with national and international partners, is already driving Nigeria’s economic growth with the commercialisation of two genetically modified crops, Bt. Cotton and Bt. Cowpea developed by Nigerian scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State.

Speaking further, the NABDA DG expressed delight at how Nigerian farmers have swiftly moved from listening to the wrong narratives that beclouded biotechnology and its products in the past to becoming beneficiaries of the science and technologies.

“It is gladdening that Nigerian farmers have swiftly shrugged off the burden of misinformation heaped on them by the armchair narratives of the anti-GMO gangs. Already, we have testimonies from the farmers across the country who are benefiting from products of modern agricultural biotechnology in the country such as the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea developed by Nigerian scientists at Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria which is helping farmers overcome the devastating impacts of Marcuca vitrata that causes 80% destruction on the farmers’ field.

“Today, the farmers are applying only two insecticide sprays as against 8 to 10 sprays previously as a result of planting the PBR cowpea. The farmers are also planting Bt. cotton, another innovative product from modern biotechnology that is changing the game in cotton farming and the hope of the textile industry’s revival on course,” he stated.

Commending the benefits of having OFAB in Nigeria, Prof Mustapha said, “The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB)-Nigeria Chapter, an initiative of AATF, has, through its various programmes and projects, embarked on a mission to enhance knowledge sharing and awareness creation on agricultural biotechnology that would raise understanding and appreciation of the technology by bringing together stakeholders in the field of Biotechnology and the public as a whole to interact, share and exchange knowledge, experiences, contacts and exploring new avenues of bringing the benefits of biotechnology to Agricultural sector.”

He said OFAB Nigeria’s Advocacy activities have been structure to fast track President Tinubu’s Food Security Agenda.

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