An expert in plant genetics and lecturer in the Rivers State University, Prof. Michael Ogburia has dispelled views that Genetically Modified food (GMO) is not safe for consumption.
Ogburia in a chat with The Tide said such views were responsible for the low agriculture productivity in the country, as he called on the general public to jettison such claims.
In the words of Ogburia: “such views are ill conceived or scientifically unproven.
“GMO will improve food production over the seasons. Producing crops all year round is important so as to ensure there are no food scarcity”.
Apart from that the university teacher submitted that GMO crops could produce nutrients lacking in some staple crops, as a result of the cross breeding.
“Many have raised concerns of GMO’s health risk from being carcinogenic to social, moral and religious beliefs, but most of those concerns are not scientifically proven”, he said.
Ogburia argued that before GMOs were released to the public, the products must have passed through rigorous scientific, environmental and health impact assessments.
The agricultural expert therefore called on governments, both at the federal, state and local levels to train people in the production of GMOs, since that will boost farm produce and encourage large scale farms.
Soliciting for the adoption of crop hybrids and varieties in the traditional farming systems, Ogburia explained that high yielding product can be cultivated and thus improve productivity of farmers.
He also summoned for strong collaborations and linkages among scientists of diverse disciplines within the agricultural sector, stressing that such effort can create better crop breeds capable of resisting diseases and environmental challenges.
AFAN Demands Incentives For More Food Production
As the world’s population is predicted by United Nations to hit 8 billion by November 15, 2022, with Nigeria standing at over 210 million, the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), has demanded incentives to produce more food to feed the population.
This was the reaction of the National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, over the fast growing Nigerian population, as food production is at an arithmetic dimension.
Ibrahim said on Tuesday that without proper incentives for farmers, the over 210 million mouths will face severe hunger if deliberate efforts are not made to boost farmers’ capacity to produce food.
He said: “The smallholder farmers should be properly boosted to produce more by ensuring security, the provision of readily affordable seeds, fertilizers and other inputs as well as adequate mechanisation and encouragement to adopt relevant technologies and innovations.
“The existence of large arable land, abundant water resources, other land resources and mineral resources should help to bolster agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
“Other areas to exploit to feed Nigeria’s large population include: adoption of all year round cultivation of crops, enhancing the livestock sector, adopting Climate-Smart agriculture, fully embracing agricultural Biotechnology and making serious investments, as well as promoting agribusiness generally.
“The abundant very good policies largely on paper should be properly implemented by appointing capable hands at all levels to drive Agricultural production, storage, processing, distribution and even consumption in order to evolve a veritable food system that should sustainably feed our large population.
“Research findings should be made readily available to our farmers to enable them optimise Agricultural production too.”
The AFAN boss also called on Government and the private sector to employ effective strategies in mobilising the young population to the agricultural sector.
“Agriculture should be treated as a business by creating an enabling environment to make it thrive. The enablers are: Address the power issue to enable processing and cold storage, thereby elongating the shelf lives of otherwise perishable crops and value addition generally”, he said.
He also called on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to deploy huge number of corps members to the agricultural sector.
“It will be wonderful to fully engage the youth corps members in Agriculture because we will evolve an educated critical mass to turn it around.
He noted that with the current situation in food production, the government and private sector should collaborate to establish more agro industrial areas for food production and employment generation.
“I’m in support of the idea of encouraging Private Public Partnership (PPP) model of agro-industrial development as it will definitely generate employment for our otherwise unemployed youth”, he added.
Embrace Climate-Smart Agriculture, NABG Urges Stakeholders
The Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG) has reiterated the need for stakeholders in the agricultural sector to reduce climate change impact on agribusiness with Climate-Smart Agriculture approach.
Director-General of NABG, Dr Manzo Maigari, who stated this during a two-day workshop on “Developing a National Framework for Climate-Smart Agriculture” in Abuja, noted that the workshop was an eye opener.
Maigari told The Tide’s source that it had become incumbent on all stakeholders to embrace climate-smart agriculture.
He said this was because of its added value to productivity and its potential to reduce the risks faced by farmers due to climate change.
Maigari advised that stakeholders should imbibe practices that have minimal damage on natural environmental systems to make it sustainable.
“So, we must either stop or begin to imbibe practices that cause very minimal damage to environmental systems, and natural environmental systems so that it is sustainable.
“In order for the environment to be regenerative enough for us to hand over something to our children,” he said.
Maigari said farmers in Nigeria needed to adopt Climate-Smart Agriculture as solution to crop cultivation, mitigating post-harvest losses, improving crop yields and restoring soil nutrients due to climate change impact on the ecosystem.
He said the use of fertilizers, felling trees, burning grasses and trees and saturation of carbon leads to disruption of the environment, which caused climate change affecting farmers’ productivity.
On tackling climate change in the agricultural sector, he said, “it would bring all the Farmers Associations, Non-Governmental Organisations and government together, embarked on an awareness campaign to re-orient farmers to know all the procedures and problems.”
Maigari noted that the idea of having a National Framework for Climate-Smart Agriculture was to be able to come up with a draft document that nourished the resilience document that had been developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The whole idea is to be able to come up with a draft document that nourishes your resilience (to climate change) document that has been developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“This is to support and enrich that document, that resilience framework from Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, such that it can be upgraded into a policy document that can be approved by Federal Executive Council.
The programme was themed, “Cleaner, Safer, Rewarding Agriculture”.
Traditional Ruler Cautions Against Using Chemicals For Fishing
A traditional ruler in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Usman Abdullahi, has advised the residents of his area and other Nigerians against the use of chemicals for fishing.
Abdullahi, the ‘Ehimega Opand’, said it was to avoid water pollution and in the interest of the health of the people.
The First Class tradtional ruler gave the advice while addressing his subjects when they paid him Sallah homage in his Palace in Umaisha, Toto Local Government Area of the State.
He lamented the pollution of the area’s river through the use of chemicals for fishing and called for attitudinal change.
Abdullahi called on his people and other Nigerians not to be idle but embrace farming, fishing and trading, to be self reliant and contribute positively to societal development.
He said the call became imperative due to the importance of agriculture to human and societal development.
“Agriculture and trade provide food, employment and improvement on the standard of living of the people, “ he said.
He commended the State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, for his efforts in enduring security of lives and properties in the area which, he said, had improved tremendously.
He said the governor had done a lot for the people in terms of security which had been the major challenge in the past.
“But now with his tireless efforts, our people are secured and you can travel both day and night without any fear of attack: we thank him for that,” he said.
The traditional ruler urged Muslims and other Nigerians to use the Eid- el- Kabir occasion to pray for the nation’s security and other challenges facing the country.
Earlier, the Overseer of Umaisha Development Area, Mallam Iliyasu Miriyam said that the visit was to rejoice with the people on the Sallah celebration.
He has commended the traditional ruler, Gov Sule and the speaker of the state legislature for their tireless efforts in securing the people and attracting development to the area.
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