Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology has charged Nigerians to embrace the application of Biotechnology to grow agricultural production in the country.
The Minister, who said this at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop on “The Role of Agricultural Biotechnology in the achievement of Food Security and Economic diversity in Nigeria” organized by National Biotechnology Development Agency in Abuja, says that this will drive poverty-alleviation and economic development.
“Biotechnology has tremendous potentials to help us achieve food security and also protect our health and environment”, he said adding that “modern biotechnology will help us to produce high yield variety of seedlings that is also disease and pest resistant which can also withstand harsh and adverse conditions in view of the current global climate.”
Agricultural Biotechnology can help achieve food security and economic diversification in Nigeria especially at this time when efforts are being made to utilize science, technology and innovation to support the development of the agricultural sector, according to Onu.
“Biotechnology has a critical role to play in enhancing agricultural production, and making agriculture a business as against a mere subsistence means of livelihood since our population grows astronomically, the available land for agricultural purposes will continue to decrease”, he added.
According to the Minister, President Mohammed Buhari is committed to ensuring that science and technology are effectively utilized to serve the nation, feed our people, cloth and shelter them, grow the economy, find jobs for the young and old, and ensure that rule of law is upheld.
Speaking at the workshop, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, Director General/CEO of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says the agency is stepping up the promotion, co-ordination, research agenda setting, development process and product for socio-economic well-being of the nation.
Rufus Ebegba, Director-General of National Bio-safety Management Agency disclosed that the aim of the workshop is to build confidence in the adoption of safe biotechnology as an alternative tool for the diversification of the economy to enhance the change agenda of the Federal government of Nigeria.
According to Ebegba, it also intended to bring biotechnology to the front burner in the diversification of Nigeria’s economy under a sound bio-safety regulatory framework.
The Director-General added that National Bio-safety Management Agency will encourage research community and developers of product of agricultural biotechnology to intensify their activities in the development of safe biotechnology product in line with the “change agenda” of the Federal government.