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Thursday, September 30, 2021


The director-general, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha (third from right) flanked by the open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology award winners and others agency officials during the 2021 OFAB Day celebration in Abuja.

By Ada Achanya

African countries have assigned September 28 as a day to celebrate strides in agricultural biotechnology recorded by various chapters of the organization, a project of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

The participating countries Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya

Speaking during the inaugural OFAB day program, theme" Celebrating Strides in Bridging the Knowledge Gap in Agricultural Biotechnology towards Agricultural Transformation in Africa: the executive director of AATF, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, said OFAB has played a big role in developing and commercializing Biotechnology products.

He said Nigeria remains a key player in supporting public knowledge for pod- borer resistant cowpea that contributed to its environmental and commercial release in 2021 and was also an instrumental to the commercialization of BT cotton passing the plant Breeders Acts education of decision makers etc.

Its activities in Nigeria that OFAB runs the media annual award which was introduced in 2017 to recognize and award journalist across Africa for their excellence in biotechnology reporting and other efforts aimed at promoting best practices in biotechnology reporting he said.

The executive director said AATF will collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the journey to advance agricultural biotechnology, we are willing to contribute significantly to transforming the agriculture sector and filling the gap in other African countries

Also speaking, OFAB Project Manager, Vitumbiko Chinoko pointed out that Africa continues to be food insecure despite her enormous potentials because she's not deploying enough technology to tackle her agricultural challenges.

He emphasized on the need for the continent to deployed biotechnology to improve our society even as we contended that the continent has the highest number of undernourished people.

He maintained that the fate of agricultural biotechnology needs to change because Africa can not achieve her agenda of food security without embracing the technology especially in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges.

In his remark, the director general of National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof Abdullahi Mustapha said OFAB in Africa has also become synonymous with Biotechnology, Genetic Modification, Gene editing and all other tools capable of enhancing agricultural productivity.

"In Nigeria, issues of biotechnology and genetic engineering were totally absent in public discuss until OFAB came to the scene,with OFAB the country is more at home with Biotechnology. No project or program has reached out to Nigerians in the 36 states, 774 local government area and the six geo- political zones of the country like OFAB. From Abeokuta in Southwest to Taraba and Gombe in the Northeast to Kano, Kaduna in the Northwest and Benue in North Central and Port Harcourt in South South to Imo in the South East etc. OFAB has taken the message of hope and agricultural revival to the door steps of Nigeria" he added

The DG further said, OFAB has taken the heat off government and government officials in the defense of the emerging technology and its products delivering to Nigeria a well structured platform that responds swiftly to misinformation, misrepresentation and calculated attempts to present the technology in bad light.

Mustapha thanked the AATF for their initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)for funding the platform. He also thanked the programme of Biosafety Systems (PBS) and the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Nigeria OFAB family that transformed the platform into a goal - getter and a pacesetter.

The Country Coordinator of OFAB Dr Rose Gidado, said this day was inaugurated to count our gain since we started in 2009 in Nigeria and the passage of Biosafety Bill was one of such gain we have made as a Nigeria chapter of OFAB.

"With the Biosafety Bill in place, Scientists are been checkmated on what they do that will be of great benefit to man, animals and the environment".

Rose said, the platform was created to correct the negative information about the technology, the gap was bridged by sharing knowledge and information and we feel we have recorded enough success story premised on our activities.

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