The Starvation of Transformation
- Written by Hassana Salisu Abubakar
Nigeria was agricultural giant in before the oil boom on the 1960s. Agriculture was Nigeria’s major source of revenue with reference to the groundnut pyramids, cotton farming and other cash crops. In an ill-fated twist of fortune, the discovery of oil diverted government’s attention from that direction and the beginning of an unpleasant story of the agricultural sector began.
Agricultural policies aimed at providing adequate food for the citizens were enrolled. In 1976 on assumption to office, Obasanjo introduced Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) while Shagari introduced the Green Revolution programme to foster the use of mechanical machinery in farming. This favoured large scale farmers in order to produce mass food products.
This was at the time when the nation’s population was not near to what we have today. Through to the present administration of Goodluck Jonathan, so much have been put in terms of policy formulation in order to produce food for the people.
However, agricultural mechanization, use of fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides has been the major means of agricultural production.
Now biotechnology has been introduced in Africa and Nigerians are asking for its application so that farmers can produce enough food for the big population. On the other hand, President Jonathan has put the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA), which is aimed at ensuring food security for the nation through mass production of food by use of modern means of farming.
This time around, government has put in place viral institutions in place towards ensuring that Agriculture regained its place of pride in the provision of food for the ever-growing population. These include research institutes across the nation as well as the National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA.
In other to regulate the application of biotechnology, The Nigeria National Biosafety framework was developed and the Biosafety Bill was passed by the National Assembly and is still awaiting Presidential assent.
These research institutes have developed certain improved variety of crops in collaboration with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The varieties include millet (seven varieties), wheat, (eight varieties in collaboration with the International Centre for Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT), tomato (7 fresh market, nine processing and four heat tolerant varieties), onions, pepper, grape vine and kenaf varieties.
Prof. Sir Brian Heap, Project Leader of B4FA said Agricultural Research cries foul concerning what it deems as insufficient government support following years of research despite the claims by the federal government that it is in support of transformation in the agricultural sector.
Dr. Moses Adebayo of LAUTECH expressed belief that if the federal government assents to the biotech bill, it would provide a framework to ensure the development and use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) which do not negatively affect plants, animals and human health or the environment.
That Nigeria cannot maximise the economic benefits associated with the practise of modern biotechnology without a biosafety law, according to Mr. Rufus Ebegba, Deputy Director, Bio-safety Office, Ministry of Environment, means that Mr. President should hasten the assenting to the Bill.
Nigerians stand the risk of losing the benefits of biotechnology in the absence of biosafety law. “The absence of a law will mean that Nigerian scientists cannot research and bring out their products for use in Nigeria,” Ebegba said.
The Senate passed the Biosafety Bill since June 1, 2011. Mr. President should dust out the bill and signed it into law for the overall benefit of the people of Nigeria.
Do you know that?
On 21 of May 1819 the 1st bicycles swift walkers in US were introduced in NYC
On a similar date in 1964 the 1st nuclear-powered lighthouse began operations in the Chesapeake Bay.
Also on the same date in 1997 The UN approved an agreement for equitable use of waters that flow through more than one country. Only China and Turkey refused to sign the key UN convention on transnational rivers.
Meanwhile in On May 21 May 1999, In South Africa a principal and teacher opened fire on students who were throwing stones angered by field trip fees. Sithembiso Gcwenya (19) was killed and 2 students were wounded near Scottburgh on the Indian Ocean.
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