DG NABDA, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha during a 2-day retreat for journalists, farmers and extension workers in Kano. Photo: Abdullahi Jalaluddeen
The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA Professor Abdullahi Mustapha has reiterated the need for the media to play a crucial role in Nigeria’s efforts to boost food production especially the deployment of modern biotechnological tools in addressing agricultural productivity challenges.
Professor Abdullahi Mustapha stated this during the opening of a 2-day retreat for journalists, farmers and extension workers in Kano.
The Director-General cautioned the media against giving space and airtime to anti-technology critics that are disrupting Nigeria’s progress in agriculture by advising farmers against using technology in enhancing their production.
He said that over the years, arm-chair critics have taken advantages of the media to propagate unscientific views and opinion that not only stalled our agricultural progress but also instil fear in our farming communities.
“Northern Nigeria is one of the leading producers of agricultural products in the country hence, the need to just commercialized products of biotechnology (Cotton Bt. and PBR Cowpea) will go a long way in helping our farmers profit from their efforts, this means the media must be prepared to support them in their efforts to ensure a food secured Nigeria,”
Professor Abdullahi Mustapha maintained that 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.
He said the National Biotechnology Development Agency as a Federal Government Agency that is responsible for promoting biotechnology activities has been doing so positively in response to the government’s aspirations of ensuring national food security, job/wealth creation, affordable healthcare delivery, and a sustainable environment.
In a remark, the Kano State Deputy Governor, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, who was represented by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture Alhaji Hafiz Mohammad said Nigeria’s agricultural prowess is being consistently weakened by some age-long practices and factors like over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, smallholder land holding, poor planting material, low fertilizer application, and the weak agricultural extension system in the country.
He said Nigeria could by-pass these challenges with effective use of emerging technologies and the media.
The Deputy Governor explained that Nigeria could leapfrog other countries to become a major supplier of agricultural products with timely deployment and adoption of biotechnology and getting the media to communicate it rightly.
He noted that while other countries are getting almost 10 tons of maize per hectare, in Nigeria, the highest variety is giving about 4 tons.
Dr Nasir Yusif Gawuna, therefore, challenged the media to promote activities that would increase agricultural productivity noting that for many decades, the nation had experienced a gradual decline in the farming population, static land size with an ever-increasing population that must be fed.
Earlier the Country Coordinator, Open Forum On Agricultural Biotechnology, Dr Rose Gidado, appeal to media practitioners and other stakeholders to utilize the Opportunity they have in enlightening the public on the importance of adopting the biotechnology methods in boosting agricultural production.