As part of its effort to enlighten the public on the role of agricultural biotechnology and biosafety in developing farmer-preferred improved crops, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) of Nigeria, in collaboration with the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), Nigeria Chapter, organized a Ministerial briefing on Agricultural Biotechnology and Biosafety to the staff of the Federal Ministry of Health at the Press Center, Radio House, Garki Abuja on the 29th of November, 2016.
Representing FARA at the event, Dr. Abdulrazak B. Ibrahim, a consultant with PARI shared with participants, lessons from Brazil, whose investment in research and development in agricultural biotechnology is partly responsible for placing the country among the top economies of the world.
Dr. Ibrahim highlighted the importance of some of the techniques that allow for the development of crops with resistance or tolerance to insect pests, weed invasiveness, diseases, drought, salinity, and other harsh weather conditions emanating from global warming and how addressing these challenges can improve productivity and income for farmers. He gave examples of genetically modified (GM) crops that are tolerant to viruses, bacteria, drought and insects.
He also highlighted crops that serve as biofactories for the generation of useful products like interferon, spider silk and crops fortified with folic acid and GM mosquito.
Nigeria, being the largest country in Africa, has its population continually on the increase and is expected to hit 250 million by 2030. Amongst the challenges Nigeria faces include hunger, poverty and malnutrition. It is therefore paramount that Nigeria embraces technological tools and innovation that can improve the productivity and competitiveness of its agriculture.
Besides demonstrating lessons in the Brazilian model of agricultural biotechnology, and showing how African countries can borrow from these lessons to carry-on their own science, Dr. Ibrahim highlighted the strong institutional and multidimensional role FARA plays in promoting strategic partnership among different stakeholders in agriculture and the link to the health sector.
Finally, he cited the Africa-Brazil Innovation Market Place and how such opportunities may open ways for continental initiatives in agriculture in the fight against hunger and poverty.
NOTE: PARI is the Programme of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation sponsored by the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn and Coordinated by FARA in Africa. It promotes the scaling up of proven innovations in the agri-food sector in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders.