From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
Minister of Science And Technology Ogbonnaya Onu has blamed the inability of Nigerian agricultural products to compete with its counterparts in the global market on poor adaptation and application of biotechnology.
Onu, speaking at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop organised by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) on animal biotechnology applications, explained that the poor application is responsible for low yields and inappropriate utilisation of resources.
The minister stressed that one of the greatest problems ravaging the country, farmer-herder clashes, suggesting it could be solved through the production of genetically modified grasses for cattle consumption.
‘Africa’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. Its people grow crops and also keep livestock. It is estimated that agriculture accounts for about 35 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), 40 per cent of its exports and 70 per cent of its employment. With the exception of a few countries, the sector is characterised by the lowest productivity in the world,’ he said.
‘The component of science and technology in modern agricultural practice is more than 90 per cent if we consider the whole agricultural chain. It is the low content of science and technology in agricultural practice in Africa, that has resulted in low productivity, low yield, and inability to compete globally.’
The minister urged Nigerians not to be discouraged by the present situation, saying ‘the problem of today, no matter how serious, should never make you feel that tomorrow will not be better than today. Our future is in our hands. We must think differently.’
NABDA Director General Abdullahi Mustapha, in his remarks, stated that biotechnology applications in animal agriculture is the ‘engine room’ for Nigeria’s economic development.