By Chinyere Anyanwu, [email protected] 09028770040
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nigeria’s National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), as well as agriculture and biotech experts have called on African governments to proactively embrace biotechnology in strengthening food and nutrition security on the continent even as they hailed the introduction of biotech cowpea in Nigeria.
In his remarks at a workshop, “PBR Cowpea (Beans): A Model Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Food and Nutrition Security in Nigeria,” which was held in Abuja, Counsellor for Agricultural Affairs, US Mission Nigeria, Smith Gerald, noted that advances in agricultural biotechnology will help to improve crop yields.
He stated that the success of the transgenic beans has added a new crop to the global biotech basket from Africa with Nigeria championing the crucial role of biotech cowpeas.
“Thousands of farmers across Nigeria who planted the biotech cowpea this planting season attest to the multiple benefits they derived compared to prior seasons. The commercialisation of the transgenic bean underscores that extensive safety studies were conducted to demonstrate that it is safe for both human and livestock consumption,” Smith stated.
Smith added that the new paradigm of scientific collaboration was due to joint efforts and called on biotech and agricultural experts including multilateral entities, governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia to strategically collaborate to increase the adoption of transgenic crops across Africa with the aim of strengthening food security.
“The workshop was a prime occasion for stakeholders in the biotech space to strengthen innovative partnerships, especially public, private partnerships that will drive the future of biotechnology in Nigeria. The commercialisation of biotech cowpea has become the latest milestone in Nigeria’s robust biosafety regulatory process,” Smith noted.
The FAS of the US Mission in Nigeria partnered with NABDA, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa to organise this significant and timely workshop.
The FAS is the overseas arm of the USDA. It offers a variety of services to American and Nigerian agribusiness companies, government and non-government entities involved in agricultural trade and development. Through a variety of programmes, the service helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing capacity building opportunities.