*seeks collaboration with int’l organisations on food security
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has assured of National Assembly’s unwavering commitment to developing in-house capacity for the advancement and utilization of biotechnology innovations in crop improvement.
Kalu who gave the assurance on Monday while declaring open the maiden conference of the Nigerian Plant Breeders Association (NPBA), in Abuja, said the lawmakers have taken significant strides in that direction with the recent passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act 2021.
The Deputy Speaker stated that the conference themed, “Advancing Plant Breeding Through Biotechnology Innovation: Fostering one Health and Nigeria’s Agenda 2050,” underscores the imperative for Nigeria to embrace innovation, particularly in the realm of biotechnology, to drive precise and efficient crop improvement for sustainable agricultural growth.
While commending plant breeders for their efforts which enable farmers to have access to diverse crop varieties, Kalu noted that it is incumbent upon the government to commit to funding agricultural innovations, thus motivating breeders to continue their crucial work.
He advised the country’s plant breeders to explore ways in which they can contribute to global food security, such as collaboration with international organizations and sharing best practices, as it will be instrumental in achieving Agenda 2050 goal.
He said, “It is with immense pleasure that I stand before you today to extend a warm and hearty welcome to all participants, both in person and those joining us online, to this groundbreaking event—the maiden conference of the Nigeria Plant Breeding Association (NPBA). The Association is a collective of brilliant minds who have dedicated themselves to the noble cause of enhancing agriculture in our nation. I must emphasize that “plant breeding is a profoundly noble profession.” By this, I mean that no individual can excel in any other profession without the foundation of adequate and nutritious food.
“These crops, in turn, nourish our citizens, contributing to their overall well-being. We must underscore the vital role that plant breeding plays in ensuring food security and addressing malnutrition. With the global population steadily increasing, we need crop varieties that are not only resilient to climate change but also capable of providing higher yields and improved nutritional content. It is incumbent upon the government to commit to funding agricultural innovations in plant breeding, thus motivating our breeders to continue their crucial work of creating novel crop varieties capable of mitigating the challenges posed by our ever-changing climate. Biotechnology is the key to unlocking the full potential of plant breeding. Embracing biotechnological advancements allows us to accelerate the development of crop varieties with desirable traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and enhanced nutritional value.
“The integration of cutting-edge technologies like gene editing and precision breeding techniques should be at the forefront of our efforts. Nigeria’s Agenda 2050 encapsulates the hopes and aspirations of our nation for the future. Among these aspirations is the development of mechanisms to ensure a sustainable environment in alignment with global concerns about climate change. We should explore ways in which our nation’s plant breeders can contribute to global food security. Collaborations with international organizations and sharing best practices will be instrumental in achieving this goal.
“I stand here today, on behalf of the House of Representatives, to solemnly declare our unwavering commitment to developing our in-house capacity for the advancement and utilization of biotechnology innovations in crop improvement. We have taken significant strides in this direction with the recent passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act 2021. In essence, this legislation is designed to ensure that all plant breeders reap the benefits of their painstaking work. I anticipate that this will serve as a powerful incentive for our breeders to continue bringing their best to the table, resulting in the development and dissemination of the finest crop varieties to Nigerian farmers, with tangible effects on our nation’s economy.”
Udora Orizu, Special Assistant on Press Affairs to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria