• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Minister tasks bio-scientists on improved food production

Minister tasks bio-scientists on improved food production

Uche Nnaji, the minister of innovation, science and technology, has advocated for the use of climate-smart solutions and precision agriculture to increase productivity and mitigate food instability.

Nnaji said this on Monday during the 35th annual conference of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) in Abuja.

The theme of the conference was “Improving Nigeria’s economic research resilience through innovative biotechnology.”

He said that based on global dynamism, other emerging technologies such as synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and tissue engineering would continue to have potential implications for the future of crops and livestock agriculture.

“Harnessing the potential of these technologies for food security will require massive investment in research and development and dissemination, regional and international collaboration as well as technology foresight and assessment will promote innovations in agriculture.

“I, therefore, charge all of you, members of BSN and other relevant stakeholders to chart innovative ways capable of solving this pressing issue of food security in fulfilment of the president’s renewed hope agenda for Nigeria,” Nnaji said.

The minister, who was represented by James Sule, the permanent secretary in the ministry, said that the country must invest in foundational scientific capabilities such as research and development.

He, however, said that entrenching innovation, science and technology in everyday life was key to achieving the nation’s development goals across all sectors of the economy.

Read also: Farmers urge Tinubu to tackle insecurity for increased food production

Martins Emeje, the director-general, Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), said that scientists should take up their responsibilities and come up with ideas that could boost the economy.

Emeje, however, called on the Federal Government to convene a summit of all scientists across the country in order to provide solutions to some of the challenges associated with agriculture and innovations.

The president of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN), Mohammed Yerima, said that the objective of the conference was to create a foundation to advance understanding of scientific issues relating to food and nutrition security, healthcare and wellbeing of mankind and a cleaner environment.

“It is one thing for farmers to use rainwater and carbon dioxide which are free from God to grow food crops, but another thing entirely for scientists to add value to such agricultural produce.

“Nutritional enhancement of food crops can be achieved through deployment of modern biotechnology.

“It is important to look at new options, principally new technologies which are beneficial to farmers and acceptable to consumers,” Yerima said.

Read also: Why rural infrastructure is critical to food production

He also said ‘Genome’ editing of food crops and animals was considered an important tool in solving many problems in the agricultural food systems and health.

Andrew Ilohon, chairman, Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the event, said that the conference would also provide a fertile ground for fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, encouraging the exchange of ideas, and nurturing the next generation of biotechnologists.

“It is through our collective efforts and unwavering dedication that we can leverage the power of biotechnology to tackle these challenges head-on and pave the way for a brighter, healthier and more sustainable future.

Paul Onyenekwe, the director-general of Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHETSCO), said that biotechnology represented the harmonious blend of biology, technology, and human ingenuity, saying it empowers one to harness the intricate mechanism of life to address some of the most pressing challenges.

He said the advent of synthetic biology had enabled the design and construction of biological systems leading to the development of biofuels, bio-based materials, and even artificial organs.

“As we embrace the marvels of innovation in biotechnology, we must also remain mindful of the ethical considerations that arise.

“We must ensure that the fruits of endeavour are wielded ethically and responsibly, safeguarding the rights, dignity and privacy of individuals while promoting equitable access to these transformative technologies across the globe. NAN