By Zaveshe Ofei
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, has called on the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) an agency under the ministry to help Nigeria solve its food and nutritional challenges deploying Science Technology and Innovation (STI).
Speaking at the National Stakeholders’ Sensitization Workshop on Animal Biotechnology Applications and Regulatory Perspectives, organized by the agency in collaboration with International Partners recently in Abuja, Onu, said Nigerians are looking up to you (NABDA) to solve it food challenges, adding that the low content and inappropriate application of science, technology and innovation has been the bane of Nigeria’s agriculture.
Apparently reacting to the skyrocketing prices of food stuff in the market, he said: “We have many mouths to feed. We also need to feed our factories with the products from animal agriculture.
“NABDA has to play a greater role in helping our dear nation find a solution to the conflict that exists between animal and crop farmers in the country. This agency has to intensify research in improving productivity and yield in animal farming in the country.
“We must also find ways to preserve and protect the wide variety of animals found in the country.”
Also with veil reference to the current farmers/herders clash, he said: “Growing grass that is nutritious and requires limited supply of water to grow, has become very important in our effort to encourage animal farming in the country.
“And to help us solve the conflict that we have in the country. We can solve it with science technology and innovation can help us solve it and it is NABDA that we are looking up to perform this role.”
Expressing confidence that the agency has the capacity to deliver, he explained that NABDA has a lot to do. We are confident that you can do it and we know that you are already doing something in this direction, but what we are saying is that you have to do more. We must continue to be Oliver Twist until the problem is solved. We are confident that you can do it andbesides, we do not have a choice.
According to the Minister, it is sad that for too long Africa has remained as the face of poverty, hunger, famine and disease. This should not be allowed to continue, he quipped.
On the need for a new paradigm, he added: “We must start thinking differently. The time has come for Africa to use science, technology and innovation to convert her abundant natural resources to the products and services that she now imports from other continents.
“Africa’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, where its people grow crops and also keep livestock. It is estimated that Agriculture accounts for about 35% of the continent’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP), 40% of its exports and 70% of its employment.
“With the exception of a few countries, the sector is characterised by the lowest productivity in the world in terms of output and we are now looking at animal husbandry and livestock production.
“This is due mainly to inappropriate application of science, technology and innovation. This results in low yield and inappropriate utilization of resources. When we apply science, technology and innovation to agriculture, many of the problems and challenges that we presently confront will be solved as it is the case in some other parts of the world.
“The component of science and technology in modern agricultural practice is more than 90% if we consider the whole agricultural chain.”