Nigerian chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology OFAB, in Africa has disclosed that it will move into north-eastern Nigeria to tackle the incidence of food insecurity that has affected over 8.7 million people in the region and left 320,000 children acutely malnourished, as shown by recent statistics from the United Nations World Food Programme WFP.
According to OFAB, it will work under the auspices of the National Biotechnology Development Agency NABDA, to provide adequate information on new modern biotechnology practices and other emerging technologies which have the potential to address food insecurity.
In view of this, OFAB held a two-day capacity-building programme for selected journalists, farmers and extension workers across the seven states in the region.
The training was aimed to create public awareness about the opportunities and challenges presented by biotechnology development and promote dialogue amongst scientists, the biotechnology industry, policymakers and the public.
This is because modern biotechnology can be an effective tool for increasing agricultural productivity and facilitating economic growth.
The director-general, NABDA, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, in his opening remarks reiterated the capability of modern biotechnology to revolutionise agricultural practices while protecting the environment.
He said Biotechnology, is offering the northeast a second chance to revive its agriculture.
He told the participants that Nigeria has advanced in technology adoption, being the first country in the world to release the Pod Borer-Resistant Cowpea and the second in Africa to release TELA maize which is drought-tolerant and insect-resistant.
The country coordinator, OFAB Nigeria, Dr. Rose Gidado stressed that the capacity-building programme brought together journalists, farmers and extension agents from the Northeast to Yola, Adamawa, with the intent that the participants would become GM Ambassadors.
Earlier, the director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, advised the participants to distrupt all misconceptions against modern biotechnology as it is safe and capable of addressing food insecurity challenges.
In his address, the state governor, Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, who was represented by his deputy, chief Crowther Seth said biotechnology is giving the northeast zone a second chance to revive her agricultural sector.
Similarly, head, public relations unit, LRCN, Mrs. Ngozi Oboh, who made a presentation on ‘Tips for Writing Impactful Science-based Stories’, called on journalists to always remember the ‘rule of the thumb of media practice’ which is to inform, educate and entertain using various platforms – traditional or social media.