Science, technology keys to overcoming challenges of food insufficiency – Onu
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, says science and technology holds the key to overcoming challenges of food insufficiency in the country.
Onu, represented by Mr Bitrus Nabasu, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said this in Abuja during the the 2nd edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Nigeria Media Award 2018.
Onu said scientists must be encouraged to continue to work for the good of the country and the people.
He noted that Nigeria has 16 research institutes with the mandate to improve on various crops.
“These institutes must be encouraged to carry out their mandates in order to ensure that the country attains self-sufficiency in quality food production.
“Our primitive agricultural practices are facing various challenges and from what we are seeing all over the world, science and technology hold the key to overcoming these challenges.”
According to the minister, globally science and technology are shaping development and the way people think and act.
He said that the Federal Government recognised this hence the recent decision to increase funding for research and development in the country.
Onu said government had also demonstrated in time past its determination to make science and technology the hub on which the wheel of development resolved.
“The coming together of scientists and journalists is crucial for fast tracking our national development.
“I want to extend a hand of fellowship to the media today; your role as society watch-dog is recognised by the constitution.
“Therefore, you must work with our scientists to ensure government emphasis on the need to use science and technology as the bedrock for attaining our development is achieved.’’
On his part, Prof Alex Akpa, the Acting Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), disclosed that the first homegrown genetically modified crop, Bt cotton, was released in the country on July 26 .
“We all know the impact this development will have on our moribund textile industry.
“As a government agency charged with the promotion of modern biotechnology, we call on the media to work closely with us in our efforts to ensure that technology is successfully deployed in all spheres of our agriculture.”
Akpa said other countries of the world had moved on to more advanced form of modern technology including gene editing, among others.
He expressed dissatisfaction that Nigeria was still debating genetic modification, a technology that is over 25 years old.
“We can’t re-invent the wheel; we have to move with the times; the era of hoe and cutlass farming is over; that is the reality the media need to educate Nigerians on.”
In her remark, Mrs Nkechi Okoronkwo, Managing Editor, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who was among the panel of discussants at the event, noted that journalists play a key role in nation building.
Okoronkwo said no society can survive without journalists, adding that it was very important that scientists worked with journalists in order to publicize and popularise their research efforts and findings.
“Journalists are bridge builders; when scientists partner with them, anything done in the laboratories will be made known to the society,” she said.
Earlier, Dr Rose Gidado, OFAB Nigeria Coordinator, said the award was initiated in 2017 by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation across seven countries hosting OFAB chapters.
Gidado said the award had brought the media closer to OFAB in their efforts to change the orientation of farmers to embrace genetic modification technology.
“Today, we are celebrating the contribution of distinguished media practitioners to our advocacy and sensitisation efforts.
“It is giving honour to whom it is due. The media has been our main ally since we set out to promote modern biotechnology in the country.
NAN reports that the OFAB award were in the categories of print, radio, television and blogging.