Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency(NABDA), has called for teamwork in the bid to have a food and nutrition security in the country.
Mustapha made the call during the distribution of certificates to trainees on online capacity building for developing seed systems and adopting agricultural biotechnology in Asia and Africa in Abuja on Tuesday.
The D-G, who commended the United States Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Services (USDA) for organising the training, including 10 NABDA staff members, urged that all hands must be on deck.
He said the online training had the goal of developing executives who would drive policy development and reforms in biotech research and development.
He said that it would also build scientists and researchers with a strong grasp of the role of biotechnology innovations in advancing agriculture, seed production and trade.
”The training came at a very critical time when the state of food and nutrition security was already at an alarming in Africa.
“The world is facing an unprecedented number of humanitarian situations today.
”Protracted conflicts, natural disasters and devastating food insecurity grip communities around the world threatening lives and livelihoods.
“By the end of 2016, more than half a billion children were living in countries affected by conflict, disasters and epidemics.
“Humanitarian crises are often characterized by limited access to safe food and clean water as well as disruptions to basic health and nutrition services, a lethal cocktail of malnourishment,’’ he said.
Mustapha said that the Federal Government deemed it fit to improve food security and agricultural productivity by establishing the NABDA.
This, he added, was in order to ensure that Nigerians benefit from the technology.
Mustapha said the agency was doing everything possible to deploy the science of genetic modification technology to combat hunger and other forms of malnutrition.
Dr Rose Gidado, Deputy Director and Country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), listed the objectives of the training.
She said, ” the training was to support the incorporation of biotech and innovative breeding techniques into seed sector improvement initiatives.
“It was also to share ways in which biotech can advance food security and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change as well as ensure availability of high quality seeds to small scale producers.’’
Gidado further said the training identified trade policies that ensure farmers’ access to biotech innovations were fit for the transformation of any nation.
She said the training was implemented by the Seed Science Center (SSC) of Iowa State University with assistance from the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and private consultants.
According to her, the training was flexible and offered various modules of biotechnology applications giving access to the areas of choice including communication, plant improvement processes, policy regulation among others.
“It was very professional and the target was Africa n countries whose biotechnology was strong,’’ she said.
High point of the event was the presentation of certificates to participants of training by Dr Gerald Smith, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Mission to Nigeria and Melinda Meador, Senior Director at USDA.(NAN)