The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the hangout was, “Ending Poverty, Hunger and Malnutrition through Improved Technology.
According to the professor, who also lectures at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, GMOs can withstand adverse weather conditions, diseases, and have an expanded shelf life and contains more nutritional benefits.
“If we can cultivate 100 million hectares of the genetically modified Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea in Nigeria, we will make nothing less than N46 billion savings annually from the reduction of imported insecticides.
“This is because GMOs increase production of crops, withstand adverse weather effects such as drought, diseases and pests while increasing quantity and quality in terms of nutritional benefits.
“These are the challenges of crop production for which biotechnology can provide solution if the society embraces it,’’ he said.
According to the professor, Nigerians need to trust their research institutes that have over the years carried out harmless researches for agricultural development to ensure food security in the country.
Also speaking, Opuah Abeikwen, the Coordinator, ASN said Nigeria was the highest consumer of beans across the world.
“However, due to its inability to meet up with demand locally, it spends more than N16 billion annually to import additional 500,000 metric tons of the produce,’’ Abeikwen said.
Abeikwen said to overcome this challenge, agricultural biotechnology was introduced to help Nigeria bridge the gap of importation and produce more nutritious foods that were highly disease, pest and adverse weather resistant.
“The cultivation of cowpea in the nation is a challenge because farmers have to spray their crops at least 10 times every planting season to fight maruca vitratar.
“This is a killer insect capable of reducing yield by about 80 per cent.
According to statistics, 29.4 million Nigerians are undernourished due to massive reduction in food production occasioned by the challenges of climate change.
“ Pod Borer Resistant cowpea promises to address some of these setbacks in the nation’s food system and also reduce the massive use of chemicals in food production, thereby, fostering environmental sustainability,’’ he said.
He advised Nigerians to go beyond selfish reasons and adopt results of important researches carried out by the nation’s agricultural research institutes.
Abeikwen said that such researches that had the capacity of boosting healthy food production and ensuring food security should be encouraged.
Mrs Rose Gidado of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, Nigeria (OFAB), said in the early 60s there was food security because what was planted was harvested.
She said that with the present effects of climate change, it was important to appropriate technology to mitigate food shortage.
Gidado said that food security was quite critical if development must be sustained in the nation.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that PBR cowpea is a GMO, highly resistant to the maruca-pod-borer pest which attacks and reduces production of beans.
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