WHAT ROLE CAN BIOTECH PLAY IN ADDRESSING FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA?
By: Modesta Nnedinso Abugu Program Assistant for the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology-Nigeria Chapter and Fellow of Cornell University’s Alliance for Science Program
Nigeria will be the world’s third most populous country by 2050, according to the United Nations’ (UN) projections for West Africa. As a Nigerian, I don’t know if this news should make me happy or sad, but as far as agriculture and food security is concerned, it is going to be a serious challenge to feed ourselves in the future if new agricultural technologies are not adopted and existing ones improved.
Suggesting agricultural biotechnology solutions to our food insecurity challenge was the topic of discussion at a recent Washington, D.C., panel event. Organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in collaboration with CropLife International and the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Agricultural Policy, the event brought together participants representing various organizations working to promote agriculture in developing countries — including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USAID, CropLife International, Cornell University and CSIS — as well as representatives from the U.S. Embassies of Nigeria, Ethiopia and Kenya.
I spoke to the role that science plays in decision-making, including the need for advocacy and communication on agricultural biotech. I also elaborated on the potential for biotechnology to boost the Nigerian economy, such as helping to increase the country’s exchange earnings, productivity and gross domestic product, while improving crop resilience during periods of low rainfall and reducing the need for farm labor.
Furthermore, the event afforded me the opportunity to speak on ways to engage youth in ag biotech adoption through policy processes, advocacy and information dissemination, as well as getting involved in research work to enhance crop adoption through field trials and productivity demonstrations. The role of youth in biotechnology adoption cannot be overemphasized.
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