THE All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, has urged farmers to embrace technological advancement to avert looming hunger already brewing across the country following impact of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic on food production.
This advice was given by the National President, AFAN, Arc Kabir Ibrahim, at a recent Virtual Summit organised by the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology, OFAB Nigeria, with theme, ‘The Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research In Nigeria’ where concerns were raised on the need to adopt biotechnology that will boost food production and security in Nigeria amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Ibrahim said smallholder farmers have sustained the food system in Nigeria despite enormous challenges they have been grappling with over the years, but is high time they embrace biotechnology to improve productivity, supply and profitability.
He said, “I am glad to share with you the farmers’ enthusiasm in the effort to create an efficient food system in Nigeria which aims to sustainably ensure food sufficiency among our 200,000,000 people and still counting.
“It is quite gratifying that this summit is convened to highlight the imminence of hunger post-COVID-19 and the ways and means to avert it. AFAN is not by any means presenting an academic paper but will simply align itself with the achievements recorded so far and encourage our scientists and researchers to continue the good work on Biotechnology by talking to the Sub-theme: Up-scaling Agricultural Production To Avert Hunger In Nigeria After The COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role Of Good Science And Technology.
“With the large population of Nigeria, the current state of low yielding seeds, the predominance of rain-fed agriculture and low mechanization it is necessary to explore the option of the use of innovation to upscale food production in order to bring about food sufficiency to avert hunger due to the ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“It is absolutely necessary to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global food system adversely and so every nation is practically on its own as far as the feeding and nourishment of its people.
“To this extent it is prudent to assume that every nation ought to work behind an iron curtain to avert hunger which could aggravate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the survival of its people.
“In Nigeria today the options provided by good Science and Technology through the genetic modification of food crops to withstand pests and drought as well as engender high yield is germane and should be embraced fully.
“Already a lot of work has been going on to commercialize Cowpea, maize, Cassava, Rice, Sorghum as well as cotton and the farmers are seeing good results so it is, therefore, easy to get them to embrace biotechnology.
“The issues around the provision of food sufficiency and the alleviation of hunger in Nigeria among SHFs and the vulnerable members of the society immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic can be best addressed by the adoption of biotechnology to upscale food production.
“The smallholder farmers who are the engine room of Nigeria’s food System should be sensitized to embrace technological advancement in order to avert hunger occasioned by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The AFAN boss also asserted that Covid-19 pandemic which has ravaged the global food system and whose effects will linger in Nigeria for a long time, which demands every stakeholder in the country’s food system be ready to go into innovative strategies and also “embrace good science and technology to avert hunger which could be more devastating than the COVID19 pandemic.”
By Ebikiseiye Thompson, Abuja