Professor Lucy Ugbado, the Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says the agency plans to introduce Genetically modified (GM) crops into Nigeria.
According to her the genetically modified products are currently under observation and are yet to be available for commercial purpose in the country.
A genetically modified crop is any crop whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.
With the introduction of these crops Nigeria will join other advanced countries in using latest technology for such crop modification, ”as we await the crops to be available in the Nigerian market Ugbado said at News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum held in Abuja
According to her the agency has recently modified rice, which can grow anywhere in the country.
“The newest rice nitrogen efficient, water efficient, salt tolerant rice, this rice has been modified in such a way that it can grow almost any where even where there is little availability of water it can do very well in those area”, the DG told participants at the forum.
“Even where nitrogen content of soil is low, it can do well. It then means that the farmers do not have to apply much fertilizer to the rice; these are the benefits that scientists are working towards’’, she adds.
Ugbado said this modification takes long process, and that it will take between 7-10 years for scientist to genetically modify one crop.
“These modification processes take nothing less than seven to 10 years to arrive at one product. That is how long it takes to get one product”
According to the DG the modification is not experimentation that is based on scientists just trying to satisfy themselves, but that “they are targeted at those issues that bring succor, that are of benefit to the society.”
She thus revealed that the BT cowpea is already in the pipeline, noting that “it has gone through introgression, experimentation and it is now being tried in different parts of the ecological zones that support the cultivation of cowpea to ensure that they are well-adapted to this environment.”
“That is the stage in which it is now; so, give another one or two years and that one will be commercially available”
”With this latest technology in genetic modifications of crops, the future of food production in Nigeria has a brighter looks, as modified crops can be produced in areas where the original crop cannot be effectively produced”, she adds.