Abuja, Dec. 31, 2023:Nigeria has made significant efforts to improve food sufficiency through various initiatives and improved agronomic practices. The country has a large agricultural sector and is blessed with fertile land and a diverse climate that can support a wide variety of crops.
One significant initiative is the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) launched by the Nigerian government, which aims to modernize and transform the country’s agricultural sector.
This initiative focuses on improving productivity, increasing access to markets, and promoting private sector investment in agriculture.
In addition to government initiatives, there are also efforts to promote good agronomic practices among farmers.
These practices include the use of improved seeds, proper crop rotation, effective pest and disease management, soil conservation, and efficient water management. These practices can help increase agricultural productivity and improve food sufficiency in the country.
However, despite these efforts, Nigeria still faces challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, limited access to credit for farmers, and the impact of climate change, however these challenges can hinder the full realization of food sufficiency in the country.
Overall, Nigeria has made progress in improving food sufficiency through good agronomic practices and various initiatives, there is need for continuous investment in modernizing the agricultural sector, improving infrastructure, and supporting smallholder farmers will be crucial in achieving sustainable food sufficiency in Nigeria.
Biotechnology has emerged as a powerful tool in the field of nutrition, offering innovative solutions to enhance the nutritional value of food and improve human health.
The problem of food insecurity in Nigeria would soon be forgotten because alot has been done in harnessing the potential of biotechnology, scientists have been able to develop various strategies to enhance the nutritional content of crops, create functional foods, and improve food safety.
One significant application of biotechnology in nutrition is the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which can increase crop yields and improve food availability.
Furthermore, GMOs can be designed to have enhanced nutritional profiles, such as higher levels of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals
Golden Rice is a notable example of a genetically modified crop developed to address micronutrient deficiencies. It has been engineered to produce beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which is crucial for eye health.
Vitamin A deficiency is a significant public health concern in many developing countries, leading to impaired vision and increased susceptibility to infections. By incorporating beta-carotene into rice, a staple food for millions of people, Golden Rice offers a sustainable solution to combat vitamin A deficiency and improve overall nutrition.
Federal Government’s efforts at eliminating impediments crippling food security in the country received a major boost with the new maize technology released by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State.
Aside from sufficiency, the new technology bridges gap of about five million metric tonnes of maize shortage in Nigeria and drastically reduce huge foreign exchange being expended yearly on importation of the crop.
It is estimated that Nigeria currently produces less than 15 million metric tonnes of maize per hectare as opposed to between 19 and 20 million metric tonnes per hectare the nation requires to meet its consumption and industrial
Adamu explained that the new technology is configured to resist fall armyworm infestation, thereby, reducing farmers cost on pesticides application, as well as nurtured for early maturity of less than 90 days production.
“Fall armyworm is a major challenge to maize production in Nigeria and the new technology is designed to resist the infestation of the pest on the crop and rather grow well even with the presence of any pest. Growing this technology, farmers will save about 50 per cent cost of production and it also has the potential of maturing early, which will not take more than 90 days from the day of planting to harvest,” Adamu noted.
The Tela maize principal investigator emphasised the essence of ‘Seeing is Believing’ field day was to showcase the result of the demonstration of the new technology to farmers in Karaye.
According to him, “we have carried out the technology demonstration at 11 sites across the North, South and Eastern parts of the country. And across the centres, we have received amazing and warm reception of farmers who are only waiting for the final release of the seed for huge production.
With this hybrid, we have recorded an average yield of 6.9 tonnes per hectares meaning that farmers can get up to 69 or 70 bags of maize per hectare as opposed to maximum four to five tonnes with the conventional high breed.
“With this technology, our local production is going to be enlarged beyond the current less than 15 million metric tonnes per annum, as opposed to 19 to 20 million metric tonnes needed per annum. It is hope that with this technology, the country will overcome the shortage of four to five million MT in the next three years,” he said.
The Executive Director of Research Institute of Agriculture ,Prof. Ado Adamu Yusuf said besides the hybrid maize, the institute has released 69 varieties of technologies on various crops to improve food security. He, however, decried the attitude of farmers who had failed to embrace the use of the improved varieties.
Yusuf reminded that improved variety are modified to reduce cost of production, improve high yield, resistance to fall army and drought tolerant, while increasing food production and food sufficiency in the overall.
He hinted that the institute has contributed significantly to agricultural research and development, especially in the areas of genetic improvement crops.
Some of the farmers in the country have expressed satisfaction with the progressive outcome of the technology on the demonstration plots, while pledging commitment to adopt the hybrid when it is finally released to boost their productivity.
The Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Abdullahi Mustapha said using biofortification in plant breeding can fight the scourge of malnutrition and also increase the incomes of smallholder farmers.
Professor Mustapha said using biofortification varieties alternately in existing intercropping system with maize, yams and legumes can boost dietary.
He further stated that micronutrient deficiencies mainly due to lack of vitamin A, zinc and iron underlie much of this malnutrition epidemic as staple crop dependence provides insufficient essential nutrients.
Despite the numerous benefits of biotechnology in enhancing nutrition, it is essential to consider potential ethical, environmental, and socio-economic implications.
In conclusion, the use of biotechnology would offers immense potential to enhance nutrition through the development of genetically modified crops, functional foods, and improved food safety measures.
By leveraging the power of biotechnology, we can address malnutrition, improve food security, and promote better health outcomes for individuals and communities worldwide.