From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Abdullahi Mustapha has assured farmers of getting genetically modified maize in the next 18 months.
Mustapha, who gave the assurance at the Open forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Media Awards, recently in Abuja, said NABDA had previously regulated the maize variety, indicating that the genes of the insert have been confirmed safe by the agency.
He stated that the next phase of commercialisation was critical to the previous success, and that failure to reach farmers would imply failure of the entire process.
Mustapha praised Nigeria’s agricultural biotechnology sector for its rapid transformation, as well as progress made in cotton and cowpea, adding that the federal government recognizes agricultural biotechnology as one of the cornerstones that will contribute to food security.
He also stated that traditional agricultural practices were facing a number of challenges, and that science, technology, and innovation were the keys to overcoming those obstacles.
Meanwhile, OFAB’s Country Director Rose Gidado, said that scientists and researchers were making progress in the deployment of agricultural biotechnology in the country.
“But some arm-chair critics who see nothing good in the efforts of Nigerian scientists, who in spite of limited funding and most vital facilities are making progress breaking new grounds.
“Unfortunately, some of our media have provided space to those anti-technologists who are interested in seeing Nigeria importing everything rather than support our scientists to produce such crops,’’ she said.
Speaking on the media award, Gidado said it was an annual event instituted by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) for OFAB in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.
She added that the award, which was in its fifth year, was aimed at recognising and rewarding exemplary journalism that stimulates best practices in adoption of agricultural technologies, especially agricultural biotechnology.