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Friday, July 24, 2020


By Ada Achanya

The acting Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, has said over 5 million farmers would be tested across the country for the coronavirus as approved by Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC).

The acting Director General who disclosed this in his opening remarks during a webinar meeting on Thursday, said the approval was given by NCDC to test farmers who  are the producers of what the public consumes, stressing that most people fail to wash  fruits before eating.

Speaking on the topic, "The National Media Submit on the Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research in Nigeria", he said the vaccine research project had been on for quiet sometime, adding that NABDA is the only agency  mandated  to handle such a project.

Akpa also disclosed that a lot of partners have joined NABDA to achieve this task of producing vaccine locally, saying "This is as a result of covid-19 which has opened the eyes of researchers to look inward and come out with a solution for the present pandemic.

The acting director general further revealed that a locally produced vaccine for the virus would be unveiled in Nigeria soon.

Earlier, the National Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Nigeria Chapter, Dr. Rose Gidado said Agricultural Biotechnology has transformed farming into a profitable business.

She noted that with the current state of agriculture in Nigeria, it had become paramount to adopt this technology to improve productivity and revive the nation's industries through the sustainable development goal of zero hunger by 2030 for national development and well being of Nigeria.

Dr. Rose said the objective of the meeting was to sensitized the people on the potential of the innovation to aid decision making and adoption in Nigeria.

The Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba said risk assessment was what the agency considered before issuing  approval to any genetically modified products for field trial or consumption.

Dr. Rufus said, the entire processes takes 13 years of any GM foods to be given an approval by the agency.

Prof. Chiedozie Eegsi, Project Manager of GM cassava, said Nigeria is the major producers of cassava in the world and the poor farmers produce it.

He said, there are over 5.1 million malnourished people in Nigeria and 60 per cent of the vulnerable people are women and children from small holder farms.

Prof. Eegsi said technology would  enhance food crops by delivering varieties of cassava genetically enhanced to pest, virus and diseases for  provision of elevated nutrition.

On his part, the President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) , Arc. Kabir Ibrahim said Nigeria must embrace biotechnology in order to meet up with food demands of the rising population.

All the researchers in their various presentation said, Nigeria is the highest producer of Rice, cowpea(beans), maize, cassava and wheat in Africa, but poorly managed and destroyed by pests.

The meeting featured researchers, principal investigator, PBR Cowpea, Prof. Ishyaku Mohammed,  Prof.  Dayo Philip, Federal University  Lafia, Dr. Sylvester Oikeh, Project Manager TELLA Maize AATF, Dr. Kayode Abiola Sani, Project Manager Newest Rice and Dr. Diran Onifade, Editor-in-Chief , African Science Technology and Innovation Portal.

The event was jointly organized by NABMA, AATF and OFAB.

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