Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have unanimously adopted the use of biotechnology as critical modern tool to fight possible post-COVID-19 food insecurity and hunger in Nigeria. This came against the backdrop of several forecast of possible food shortage that may befall the country due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
This was disclosed recently during a National Media Summit webinar on the Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Resaerch in Nigeria, organised by Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja. Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr. Rose Gidado, stated that adoption and advancement of agricultural biotechnology in Nigeria was one of the most potent ways to tackle the challenges of food insecurity, especially after the COVID-19 crisis. Gidado noted that the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030 was fundamental for national development and well-being of Nigeria.
She said that agriculture being the solution could not be handled without applying modern technologies. Also, Kabir Ibrahim, an architect and former National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), said that farmers in the country had realised the need to innovate and embrace good science and technology to avert hunger, which could be more devastating than the scourge. He said: “With the large population of Nigeria, the current state of low yielding seeds, the pre-dominance of rain-fed agriculture and low mechanisation, it is necessary to explore the option of the use of innovation to upscale food production in order to bring about food sufficiency to avert hunger due to the ravages of COVID-19.
“It is absolutely necessary to note that the pandemic has affected the global food system adversely and so every nation is practically on its own as far as the feeding and nourishment of its people.” Ibrahim further noted that science and technology was a good option that provides opportunity for genetic modification of food crops that will guarantee better yields and food production. According to him, biotechnology has also provided solutions to the challenges of pests and drought, which undermine the efforts of farmers towards food sufficiency. “Already, a lot of work has been going on to commercialise cow pea, maize, cassava, rice, sorghum as well as cotton and the farmers are seeing good results so it is, therefore, easy to get them to embrace biotechnology.