• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Researchers see economic potential in kola plants

Researchers see economic potential in kola plants

Nigerian researchers in a recent nanotechnology conference explored the economic benefits of kola plants for circular economy and poverty alleviation, and how kola can contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable economic models and poverty reduction strategies.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the maiden international conference on Kola plants, with the theme, ‘the treasure beyond consumption: exploring kola for sustainable development’ organised by the LAUTECH Nanotechnology Research Group (NANO+) and the Pan Africana Strategic and Policy Research Group (PANAFSTRAG), Lagos.

Acknowledging the potential risks associated with innovation and ensuring that research and promotion efforts on kola are conducted thoughtfully and responsibly, the researchers also called for strategic promotion of kola research for the public good.

The communiqué reiterated the need for concerted research of a multidisciplinary dimension to fast-track the breeding of new high-yielding varieties of kolanut and bitter kola, and the establishment of germplasm for kola and its relatives.

It also called for applications of new knowledge in Artificial Intelligence (AI), bioinformatics, smart agriculture, molecular biology and nanotechnology to enhance the productivity of kola plants and their utilization.

The conference noted that it was the right time for the establishment of a program in herbal medicine in the Nigerian University system. According to the communiqué, through these efforts, more values can be extracted from kola plants for the development of countries in the West Africa sub-region.

Agbaje Lateef, head, LAUTECH Nanotechnology Research Group (NANO+), noted that while Nigeria contributes up to 55percent of the world’s production of kolanut, the country was not extracting enough economic benefits from the plant and its other relatives.

He highlighted the efforts of his research group in utilising different parts of kola for research in biotechnology and nanotechnology in over a decade, and noted that its investigations motivated PANAFSTRAG for collaboration on issues surrounding the cultivation and exploitation of kola plants.

Ishola Williams, executive secretary of PANAFSTRAG and co-convener of the conference, canvassed for research activities in tertiary institutions for the public good.

Omotoye Olorode, Odoje Biodiversity Centre, Odoje-Orile, Ogbomoso and keynote speaker, presented perspectives on kola nut, tracing its origin, variation, cultivation and myriads of utilisation that transcends herbal medicine, industrial use, cultural and religious belief.

He stated that more research efforts should be geared towards developing new high-yielding varieties of kolanut and expanding its commercial usefulness in creating new products for sustainable development.