The minister of innovation, science and technology, Uche Nnaji, has advocated for technological investment for agriculturists to access and use 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, tagged: “Improving Nigeria’s economic research resilience through innovative biotechnology.”
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 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.
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.
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.
He said: “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.”
He added that ‘Genome’ editing of food crops and animals was considered an important tool in solving many problems in the agricultural food systems and health.
On his part, 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.