Nigeria’s economy stands to record an economic output of about $11.6billion if it embraced biotechnology in its agriculture. Vice president, International Row Crops and Global Vegetable Business, Mr Mike Frank, has said.
Frank said at a news conference in Abuja that with the technology, the country’s smallholder farmers would ultimately be able to have access to ‘another tool in their toolbox’ to make planting decisions and make important contributions to increase food security.
Stating that farmers want this whole technical support so that they could maximise yield, he said: “According to FAO, in developing countries, smallholder farmers produce most of their countries’ food. However, they tend to be generally poorer and less food-secure than the rest of their countries’ populations. More than 60 per cent of people in rural areas live below the poverty line – and the majority are farmers. Many of these farmers struggle due to limited, if any, access to technology and advanced tools to improve farming conditions and increase crop yields,” he noted.
Frank said the effort is rooted in the company’s strategic determination to commercialise and develop the market for genetically modified (GM) crops and other products, adding that it would be reaching out to the different companies in Nigeria that would be involved in the whole process.
He also said that the technology was safe as scientists around the world and even prominent organisations, including the most prominent scientific bodies in the world – the World Health Organization (WHO), the British Medical Association, the United States National Academy of Science, the French Academy of Medicine, and others have studied and discussed the issue of the safety of biotech products and found no evidence that genetically engineered products were inherently unsafe.
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He also disclosed that the country would need to double its corn production to meet the rising demand for poultry adding that the company would be pleased to be a part of the success story.
“We know that in the next five years, the demand for poultry will be high and the demand for corn will increase. With biotechnology, smallholder farmers will be able to match up with demand,” he said adding that MONSANTO had brought over 40 varieties of corn that would be tested in the country.
writen by: Kingsley Alu – Leadership Newspaper