The National Consultant, Food and Agriculture Orgnanisation (FAO) of the UN, Dr. Emmanuel Odunze, says Nigeria has huge potential in food security and has enough to export.
Odunze said this at the opening of a two-day Step-Down workshop on the Revised and Harmonised Characterisation, Inventory and Monitoring of Animal Genetic Resources tools for Africa in Abuja on Friday.
The workshop is organised by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).
He said that Nigeria had huge potential in food security, all the country needed to do was to harness these potential.
He added that “you can see the fertile lands, the genetic breeds, Nigeria has the potential in food security and can even export;
government should try more in allocating resources and deploying the right manpower to the food and agriculture sector.
“More resources and manpower should also be deployed for logistics to increase food production and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture should support the private sector.
“We are here to support NABDA in the genetic animal resources because we believe that it is a very important component in livestock production for us to have a resilient genetic resources in Nigeria.
“Some of our genetic breed are going extinct and the only way to conserve them is to have a reference lab and have the manpower resources to sustain what we have.”
The FAO consultant added that characterisation was essential to know animal potential and categorisation to improve them for cross-breeding to get optimal results.
Odunze said FAO had set a global agenda for all the countries of the world, talking about global plan of action on animal genetic resources, and was willing to intervene in any area the country required assistance.
Dr. Poopoola Mustapha, the Project Lead, Animal Genetic Resources in Nigeria, NABDA, said it was time Nigeria started getting to the field on animal genetic resources.
According to him, throughout the African continent there is an harmonised tool now on characterisation of the animals.
He said “we want to do a detailed research and understand the animals to characterise them, that means they have different characters in terms of physical features and genotypic ones that make one animal to be different from the other.
“It is very essential to do research before you rear animals, to go into the animal business, you must understand in detail what the animal stands for.
“For instance, we have goats in this country but do you know that one specie of goat can have 14 different varieties?
“In other parts of the world, particular species are grouped and are known as one.
“But as at today, because there is uncontrolled breeding, animals are crossing the way they like, thereby causing genetic dilution.
“This workshop is therefore, aimed at stopping such genetic dilution.”
Poopoola added that the workshop was also aimed at making sure that all animals were well grouped and characterised for better breeding.
Prof. Alex Akpa, the acting Director-General, NABDA, said the workshop was a significant milestone in the country’s history of animal genealogy.
He said “the country is set to build the human capacity of the first set of trainers who will be deployed to train field workers across the country to characterise our indigenous breeds and species of livestock across the value chain.
“NABDA had been providing a veritable platform to advance the sustainable management and utilisation of animal genetics in Nigeria since 2016.
“The Animal Genetic Resources laboratory in NABDA is equipped with relevant equipment to facilitate the practical session today and tomorrow.
“I hope the outcome of the workshop will go a long way in providing technical skills required to continue the characterisation of livestock species and breeds in Nigeria.”