Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Expand National Biotechnology Devt Agency to All States - Okolo

The Federal Government has been urged to expand the presence of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) beyond Abuja to all the 36 states so that farmers can know about what the agency is doing.

Dr. Simon Chukwuemeka Okolo, the immediate past national President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), who made the call in Aba, Abia State, said that the presence of the agency in all states of the federation will facilitate government's Agriculture Transformation Agenda.

He pointed out that new farming information, techniques, seedlings and livestock being produced by this agency is not being utilised by farmers in Nigeria.

Established 11 years ago, the agency is under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and it is currently charged with the with the following mandates: researching into mass production of improved varieties of crop seedlings and live stocks in the country, develop an indigenous critical mass of human resources and infrastructure for biotechnology in Nigeria; develop sustainable exploitation of bio resources for our food and agriculture; develop mechanism for adequate funding of biotechnology activities through national and international funding agencies, among other responsibilities.

Okolo, therefore, called for adequate sensitisation of the activities of the agency as well as spread of the agency's presence across the 36 states of the country to avail Nigerians of their much needed services.

He lamented that the current realities on hunger and poverty across the country has made it imperative that government must desist from paying lip service to issues of diversification of the economy through agricultural transformation and manufacturing, insisting that to transform agriculture, government must encourage agricultural mechanisation and set up an agency focused solely on extension of low credit facilities to farmers.

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