THE National President of Epidemiological Society of Nigeria (EPISON), Professor Ayuba Zoakah, has said that biotechnology is misinterpreted in Nigeria, which has been the major reason why some components of the technology have not been adopted in the country.
Zoakah said the population of Nigeria is growing and conventional seeds and way of farming cannot produce enough food to feed the growing population, he therefore advocated for the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as way out to attaining self sufficiency in food production.
“Biotechnology has been misinterpreted in Nigeria because of lack of information, it is a scientific method of improving the quality and quantity of different types of agricultural products not only for human consumption, but for industry.
“The population is growing, in the past, farmers are subsistent farmers, now we are going into large scale farming and we need to improve not only the seedlings but the method of production and NABDA is very useful in Nigeria in opening our eyes to the importance of science in agriculture, biotechnology essentially is useful in modern agriculture, we want to educate the public about the importance of biotechnology in public health implementation and in public health programming,” he said.
Zoakah, who was speaking at the 6th Annual Conference of EPISON, noted that there was need for increased funding of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), which is a government agency responsible for developing biotechnology, to enable is live up to its mandate.
Meanwhile, scientists have developed a maize variety called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA Project), which has proven to resist the attacks from Army worm.
Army Worm is pest that attacks maize, currently the pest is ravaging farms across the country which the Federal government have taken steps to contain through provision of chemicals for farmers.
The project is a public-private partnership to develop royalty-free African drought-tolerant white maize varieties, it also increases yield stability, protect and promote farmers’ investment in best management practices.
The project which is water conserving and insect protected conventional and transgenic maize, is expected under moderate drought, increase yields by 20-35 per cent over current varieties, it is also expected to translate into additional 2 million MT of maize during drought to feed 14 to 21 million people.
According to a scientist, Dr Rose Gidado, “the lasting solution to Army Worm infestation on maize is the use of genetic modification technology to develop a maize variety that would be resistant to the pest that gives a permanent solution.
“There is already a variety of maize called Water Efficient Maize Variety for Africa that has proven to be resistant to Army Worm, it has not yet been deployed to Nigeria but we are making plan.”