Dr Rose Gidado, Scientist and Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), in Africa, Nigeria Chapter, has said that to attain food security Nigeria should bring in and localise technologies.
She said Nigeria needs technology as a prerequisite to fast track agricultural productivity and make it sustainable.
Gidado spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Tuesday in Abuja on ways to ensure food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Gidado, also Deputy Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), told NAN that these technologies were a combination of biotechnology and mechanisation among others.
“ With technology, we can go into large scale farming which will ensure food security because there will be food everywhere.
“Technology is the key, let’s bring them in and then localise them to our own advantage and at the end of the day we can go into commercial farming, business farming,’’ she said.
She held that Nigeria had a lot to learn from the present COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the globe.
According to her, “we need to look inward especially in terms of food security, we need to be food secured, look into our health facilities at our hospitals and upgrade them.’’
As a means to ensure food security in the face of the pandemic, Gidado opined that farmers needed to have access to good quality and improved seeds.
“Agricultural productivity is all about quality seeds, having access to these seeds in the right quantity, quality and at the right time of planting,’’ she said.
She regretted that COVID-19 pandemic was going to adversely affect agricultural productivity in 2020 due to the lockdown happening in the planting season.
She said the country was going to face some challenges, hence, the need to bring in technologies, especially modern biotechnology practice that would guarantee sustainability in future.
Gidado assured that biotechnology on its own would also contribute to feasibility by developing seeds that are nutritionally enhanced and climate-smart (drought tolerant).
Climate-smart seeds according to her, are seeds that will germinate no matter the weather and seeds that are herbicide-tolerant for the reduction of production cost.
She disclosed that the high cost of grains was because Nigerian farmers used a lot of farm inputs which comprised fertilizers, pesticides and other sprays.
“But with this modern biotechnology practice, we can develop crops that can reduce the number of chemical sprays.
“Once an insect-tolerant, drought-resistant crop is developed, spraying will be reduced, and you don’t have to spray continuously to have a bumper harvest,’’ Gidado said.
She disclosed that spraying continuously had cost implications because the farmers would want to make up for his expenses by selling his produce at an exorbitant rate.
“Nigeria government should invest much in research and development, improve the food and health systems as well as upgrade the facilities of the seed companies,’’ she said.