How Biotechnology Can Solve Agricultural Challenges in Nigeria
Agricultural biotechnology has been said to be the major solution to the various challenges that we are facing due to climate change, unstable prices for agricultural produce and deterioration of productive land for farming in Africa.
Dr Denis Kyetere, Executive Director, Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), while speaking on Making Emerging Technologies relevant for Smallholder farmers in Africa at the recently concluded 4th Calestous Juma Executive Dialogue (CJED) event on Innovation and Emerging Technologies, said Agricultural biotechnology can increase crop yields through the development of drought-tolerant and pest and disease-resistant crops that perform better and yield more harvests.
He said that agricultural biotechnology can accelerate development and thus increase farmer profit margins.
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Dr Kyetere said, according to
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application ISAAA 2020 report, the incomes of farmers planting biotech crops globally have increased in both developed and developing countries with economic gains of US$224.9 billion benefitting more than 16 million farmers in the last 23 years.
He also noted that while improving plant performance, the use of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) genes to produce insect-resistant crops has reduced the excessive use of insecticides which is saving farmers costs on inputs and contributing to human health and the environment.
Bt is a microbe naturally found in the soil and has been used as a biological pesticide for several decades to control insect damage mostly in the horticulture industry.
Dr Kyetere urged African leaders to allocate more funding for research and development for emerging technologies such as agricultural biotechnology, emphasizing that this would increase capacity in biotechnology research in Africa for the benefit of the continent and further called on governments and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to embrace a public-private-partnership collaborative model to attract the private sector to support biotechnology research and contribute to increasing capacity in the field.
“Investment in biotechnology research will produce a critical mass of expertise to enable the continent to exploit the benefits of the technology in improving agricultural productivity among farmers,
“AATF spearheaded efforts to reduce ineffective regulatory systems which have improved biotech research in Africa. More efforts to increase friendly regulatory environment to stimulate biotech research is still required,” he stated.
The CJED, organized by the AUDA-NEPAD, brought together experts across the continent to deliberate on strategic innovation and emerging technologies for smart agriculture to strengthen Africa’s food security.
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