THE United States has said that advances in agricultural biotechnology will help to improve crop yields in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
Speaking at a workshop entitled, ‘PBR Cowpea (Beans): A Model Public Private Partnership (PPP) for Food and Nutrition Security in Nigeria,’ on Wednesday in Abuja, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Mission Nigeria Smith Gerald noted that the success of the transgenic bean had added a new crop to the global biotech basket from Africa.
Nigeria is championing the crucial role of biotech cowpeas and it is expected that it will support the growth of the cowpea industry.
Over 7.4 million tons of dried cowpeas are produced globally, with Africa producing nearly 7.1 million, according to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.
Nigeria is the largest producer and consumer, accounting for 48 per cent of production in Africa and 46 per cent worldwide, IITA further said.
“Thousands of farmers across Nigeria who planted the biotech cowpea this planting season attest to the multiple benefits they derived compared to prior seasons. The commercialization of the transgenic bean underscores that extensive safety studies were conducted to demonstrate that it is safe for both human and livestock consumption,” Smith stated.
Smith noted that the new paradigm of scientific collaboration was due to unprecedented joint efforts and called on biotech and agricultural experts, including multilateral entities, governments, the private sector, NGOs and academia to strategically collaborate to increase the adoption of transgenic crops across Africa with the aim of strengthening food security.
“The workshop was a prime occasion for stakeholders in the biotech space to strengthen innovative partnerships, especially public, private partnerships that will drive the future of biotechnology in Nigeria. The commercialization of biotech cowpea has become the latest milestone in Nigeria’s robust biosafety regulatory process,” Smith noted.
The Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria partnered with National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation, (AATF), National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa to organise the workshop.
The Foreign Agricultural Service is the overseas arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. It offers a variety of services to American and Nigerian agribusiness companies, government and non-government entities involved in agricultural trade and development. Through a variety of programs, the service helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing capacity building opportunities.