Director General of Nigeria’s biotechnology agency, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Abdullahi Mustapha has said Nigeria could only feed its growing population if the country is able to adopt and apply modern technologies, especially those that support improved food production.
Professor Mustapha who made this call in a remark delivered in Kano on Monday to open the ongoing two-day retreat for Journalists, farmers and agric extension agents made a case for the adoption and application of biotechnology as a solution option for the feeding of Nigeria’s fast growing population and the shrinking land spaces for agricultural activities amidst other challenges.
He said, “Today, the population of our farming communities is seriously under threat, the use of hoe and cutlass is also becoming a great challenge and our population is not reducing but increasing geometrically. We therefore need to embrace technologies as one of the most strategic options to feeding our people.”
Nigeria is currently regarded as the country with the largest population in Africa. According to the World’s population review, Nigeria’s population will reach about 401.31 million by the end of the year 2050. Similar projection by the Census Bureau of the United States indicates that the population of Nigeria will surpass that of the United States in 2047, peaking at 379.25 million. This would make Nigeria the third most populated country in the world.
With reliance on rain-fed farming, low uptake of modern farming methods and other challenges like pests and insects infestation, experts have repeatedly say Nigeria may be faced with serious food crisis.
But, with biotechnology, Professor Mustapha said Nigeria could by-pass these challenges.
“The development of such technologies is to help our smallholder farmers overcome the teething challenges associated with farming,” Prof Mustapha said.
According to him, modern biotechnology tools have helped other countries of the world turn around their agricultural sector while also enhancing food and nutritional security.
“Modern biotechnology tools have helped other countries of the world turn around their agricultural sector, enhanced food and nutritional security, profited their farmers, and attracted the younger generation to farming, Nigeria cannot be an exception. We advocate for a responsible technology deployment that will guarantee high yield, keep pest and diseases away, bring about bumper harvest, increase the income of our farmers and at the same time guarantee safety,” he said.
Nigeria made history as the first country in Africa and the world at large to develop and release a cowpea variety that is resistant to the notorious Pod Borer, which has the capacity of destroying a whole beans farm and leaving the farmer helpless.