The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has reiterated the National Assembly’s sheer commitment to developing in-house capacity for the improvement and use of biotechnology innovations in crop development.
Hon. Kalu gave this assurance at the maiden conference of the Nigerian Plant Breeders Association (NPBA), in Abuja, where he disclosed that the lawmakers have taken significant strides in that direction with the recent passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act 2021.
While speaking during the conference themed: ‘Advancing Plant Breeding Through Biotechnology Innovation: Fostering one Health and Nigeria’s Agenda 2050’, the Deputy Speaker underscored the imperative for Nigeria to embrace innovation, particularly biotechnology, in order to drive precise and efficient crop improvement for sustainable agricultural growth.
He commended plant breeders for their efforts which enable farmers to have access to diverse crop varieties, adding that it is incumbent upon the government to commit to funding agricultural innovations, therefore motivating breeders to continue their crucial work.
According to him, the country’s plant breeders should explore ways in which they can contribute to global food security, such as establishing partnership with international organizations and sharing best practices, as it will be instrumental in achieving the Agenda 2050 goal.
In his words: “It is with immense pleasure that I stand before you today to extend a warm and hearty welcome to all participants, both in person and those joining us online, to this groundbreaking event—the maiden conference of the Nigeria Plant Breeding Association (NPBA).
“The Association is a collective of brilliant minds who have dedicated themselves to the noble cause of enhancing agriculture in our nation. I must emphasize that “plant breeding is a profoundly noble profession.” By this, I mean that no individual can excel in any other profession without the foundation of adequate and nutritious food.
“These crops, in turn, nourish our citizens, contributing to their overall well-being. We must underscore the vital role that plant breeding plays in ensuring food security and addressing malnutrition. With the global population steadily increasing, we need crop varieties that are not only resilient to climate change but also capable of providing higher yields and improved nutritional content.”
He further urged the government to put in more efforts as to the development of agriculture in the country by funding all necessary sectors therein.
“It is incumbent upon the government to commit to funding agricultural innovations in plant breeding, thus motivating our breeders to continue their crucial work of creating novel crop varieties capable of mitigating the challenges posed by our ever-changing climate.
“Biotechnology is the key to unlocking the full potential of plant breeding. Embracing biotechnological advancements allows us to accelerate the development of crop varieties with desirable traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and enhanced nutritional value.
“The integration of cutting-edge technologies like gene editing and precision breeding techniques should be at the forefront of our efforts. Nigeria’s Agenda 2050 encapsulates the hopes and aspirations of our nation for the future.
“Among these aspirations is the development of mechanisms to ensure a sustainable environment in alignment with global concerns about climate change. We should explore ways in which our nation’s plant breeders can contribute to global food security. Collaborations with international organizations and sharing best practices will be instrumental in achieving this goal.
“I stand here today, on behalf of the House of Representatives, to solemnly declare our unwavering commitment to developing our in-house capacity for the advancement and utilization of biotechnology innovations in crop improvement. We have taken significant strides in this direction with the recent passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act 2021.
“In essence, this legislation is designed to ensure that all plant breeders reap the benefits of their painstaking work. I anticipate that this will serve as a powerful incentive for our breeders to continue bringing their best to the table, resulting in the development and dissemination of the finest crop varieties to Nigerian farmers, with tangible effects on our nation’s economy,” he submitted.