Kano: Gawuna Urges Nigeria to Leverage Agric Biotechnology, Charges Media on Promotion

Nigeria can become the major supplier of agricultural products through the adoption of biotechnology amid the low production challenge bedeviling the country, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the Deputy Governor of Kano State has said.

According to Gawuna, Nigeria’s agricultural sector is being weakened by some age-long practices and factors ranging from over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, smallholder land holding, poor planting material, low fertilizer application and weak agricultural extension system.

Proffering a solution to these challenges, the deputy governor said that they can be averted through the effective use of emerging technologies and the media.

Gawuna made this charge during a two-day retreat for journalists, farmers and extension workers organized by National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in collaboration with Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, Nigeria Chapter held in Kano State.

He said, “For far too long now Nigeria has experienced a gradual decline in our farming population, static land size with an ever-increasing population that must be fed.

“Meeting this demand looks almost impossible when viewed against our degraded land, poor yield and the emergence of new crop diseases and pest.

“Even though agriculture remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs two-thirds of the entire labour force, the production hurdles have significantly stifled the performance of the sector.

Gawuna who was represented by his Special Assistant on Agriculture, Mr. Hafiz Muhammad, noted that over the past 20 years, value-added per capita in agriculture has risen by less than 1 percent annually.

Citing the FAO, he divulged that Nigeria has lost USD 10 billion in annual export opportunity from groundnut, palm oil, cocoa and cotton alone due to continuous decline in the production of those commodities.

He continued, “The question now is how long do we have to wait? The time is now, we now have technologies that have been tested and proven to be safe with many years of usage and there has never been any published report of adverse effects on both humans and the environment.

“Our strength as a country lies in our ability to optimize our agricultural production to create jobs, create incomes and raise the standard of living of our people; for all this, agricultural biotechnology offers us a golden platform and I think we should grab it with both hands.”

Gawuna further urged the media to promote activities that would increase agricultural productivity in the country.

SOURCE: AGRONIGERIA

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