The Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) Alhaji Sabo Nanono has said President Muhammadu Buhari's administration places high priority in Agriculture.
The Minister said that in the face of the challenging Pandemic which has threatened all aspects of modern life especially the agricultural food chain across the globe, modern biotechnology is the critical tool in improving food supply and good yield. The Minister said this in his keynote address during a webinar on Tuesday.
This is the reason why President Buhari's plan to diversify the economy through agriculture is stronger than ever through the use of technological intervention to expand agricultural productivity across the country.
The event was jointly organized by National Biotechnology Development Agency ( NABMA), Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria chapter and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development ( FMARD).
Speaking on the topic" Covid19 Securing Nigeria's food system through technology, he said the technology especially modern biotechnology has a crucial role to play in boosting food security in the country.
The Minister Nanono also said the Buhari's administration in the midst of the challenging covid 19 pandemic has provide improved seeds, agrochemicals and fertilizers, farm inputs, rural infrastructure, market access and interest free loans to farmers across the country.
He said with the aid of biotechnology, shelf life of agricultural produce would help resuscitate the food sector.
The Minister also spoke about his ministry"s collaboration with NABDA and other agencies toward the production of the recent Nigerian invented RNA Swift extraction kit for "Covid 19 diagnosis.
He said because of this. Covid19 test is available locally ", reiterating that the FMARD would continue to support science and technology in solution providing in order to enhance food production and avoid pest harvest losses.
" The Covid 19 may probably open opportunity for our country to look inward in what we produce and what we eat" Nanono said.
The acting Director General Prof. Alex Akpa , co host of the virtual conference on mitigating the impact of covid 19 in Nigeria food security system, said the webinar was meant for pulling out strategy to address the pandemic with biotechnology.
Prof. Alex said biotechnology has a very powerful tool that had the potential of helping the country to address many situation including diseases outbreak, hunger, malnutrition, insects and pest infection amongst others.
He also noted that agricultural sector was one of the most affected by this pandemic restrictions where people can't gather closely to undertake farming activities because of social distance rules.
He said our small holder farmers carry out farming through communal participation, " as unplanned as covid 19 so also other vulnerabilities that the agriculture sector face in this country.
Also climate change which has affected the environment resulting to flooding and deserts encroachment did not warn us ahead too.
He assured that with biotechnology in Agriculture, Nigeria would see progress in production, quality and high yields, reduction in drudgery, improve resistance to pest and diseases.
Akpa disclosed that the agency had also been able to unfold a program capable of producing about five million yam seedlings using the aeroponics technology for farmers across Nigeria in this covid 19 lock down era.
Earlier, the National Coordinator Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Nigeria Chapter, Dr. Rose Gidado said Covid19 was one of the world's most significant pandemics leading to decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She stressed, this had led to social disruptions and loss of million jobs, adding as a result of these, small holder farmers were at the receiving end.
" How do we actualize and sustain the agricultural ecosystem of our dreams"
" Biotechnology is therefore the kingpin in tackling and overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic to food security" she said.
The Director General, National Agricultural Seed Council(NASC) Dr. Philip Ojo said the Council is working hard through the use of its various innovation to improve the seed sector amidst the pandemic.
" Seed is among the essential services and must continue to thrive in order to ensure food security" said the DG.
He assured farmers that they will continue to have access to improved seeds.
Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo of Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa ( FARA), said Nigeria has all it
The Director of Agriculture and Agro Industry, ,African Development bank Dr Martins Fregene made his presentation alongside Prof. M Ishyaku of institute for Agricultural Research Sumaru Zaria.
Ishyaku said covid 19 would be around for a long time and ways must be created for it to work for Nigerians as the new normal.
An Agricultural Biotechnologist Dr. Abdulrazak Ibrahim in his presentation said over 800 million go to bed hungry, to them food is medicine.
" This technology is meant to change the level of the livelihood of the people he added.
The conference featured many high levels of academics and agricultural biotechnologist and the president of National Cotton Association. of Nigeria ( NACOTAN) Mr Anibe Achimugu was present amongst others.