Food security: Scientist urges govt. to domesticate global technologies

Abuja – Nigeria has been advised to create necessary incentives that would encourage use of foreign technologies for improved crop yield that would ensure food security in the country.

Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist at Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Nigeria chapter, gave the advise in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Wednesday, in Abuja.

Gidado said this would avert disruptions to production and marketing systems, which often enhanced the resilience of farmers, while also cushioning the hardships experienced by vulnerable persons.

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She noted that at this critical stage in Nigeria’s history, food was paramount and should be sourced from all available channels.

“For a nation to build, to become a developed nation, it should be able to feed its population, but we are still not able to do that.

“It is better we adopt appropriate technologies and localise them for use to develop our indigenous crops,’’ Gidado said.

Gidado, who is also a Deputy Director at National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said Nigeria needed had no reason to fear domesticating foreign technologies because it was a globally acceptable practice.

According to her, the U.S., Japan, China, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa among others, who are termed food sufficient countries, became so by adopting other countries’ technologies.

“You can bring in a technology and turn it around to suit your own purpose and scientists mimic nature in the practice of  genetic modification.

“Nigeria is the giant of Africa, but when it comes to food security we are not there, therefore we must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and step up our game,’’ the scientist said.

She decried the use of outdated local inputs such as hoes and cutlasses in farming, saying that would not take the country anywhere in its quest to attain food security.

She further stated that mechanisation and use of drones in application of chemicals by developed countries, was the way to go.

According to her, though manual chemical application is capital intensive, small holder farmers are already used to it.

Gidado said it was stressful for a farmer to carry chemicals on his back to spray a 400-hectare farmland when technology had help in reducing such labour, cost and health risks.

She therefore, said the use of digital technology and satellite imagery would help detect any occurring problem even in the middle of a 400-hectare farmland.

“We cannot remain stagnant and continue to stick to our `olden day’s’ tools as our population grows geometrically; we need to use any technology that we know can help us feed the teeming population.”

According to her, OFAB on its part was assisting farmers by linking them with seed companies to access improved seeds and farm inputs, especially at this period of COVID-19 pandemic.

Gidado said Genetically Modified (GM), technology could help in the area of nutrition security by designing crops with essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that were used in boosting the body immune system, especially in children.

She assured farmers that they had nothing to lose by adopting GM crops because most of them often suffered losses in their farms due to insects infestations, weeding and other factors.

She recalled how farms in Kenya were recently invaded by locusts, leaving farmers struggling unsuccessfully to tackle the issue.

“So if we can engineer a crop to resist locusts, farmers will rush for it,’’ Gidado said. (NAN)

SET/CHOM/DOR

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