Nigeria ready for biotechnology

Nigeria ready for biotechnology
Posted on March 26, 2013

Mr Rufus Ebegba,Deputy Director Ministry of Environment

Nigeria ready for biotechnology
By Ugonma Cokey, LagosA Deputy Director in Nigeria’s Ministry of Environment, Mr Rufus Ebegba, says Nigeria is adequately prepared for biotechnology.

At a training organised for Media Fellows of Biosciences for Farming in Africa held in Lagos, Egbegba stated that Nigeria already had a policy and guidelines to ensure proper take off.

He said that apart from an office which had been created and boosted staff strength, 15 members of staff were being trained. He said that three members of Staff had already been trained up to the Masters level in biosafety.

According to him, regulations are also being developed, while waiting for the accent of the biosafety bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Addressing concerns of biosafety

The Director called on biotech critics’ to change their mind set in order to understand the advantages of technology.

“This technology is not a wholesale technology, as it would be highly regulated… The Ministry of Environment has built enough capacity to ensure that when the government signs the bill, we will be able to ensure that the products that will be released to the environment are not toxic to human health and are good for human consumption before they are released.”  Egbegba said.

He said that the capacity was being developed and the public was being enlightened on what government was doing to ensure the concerns of modern biotechnology are addressed.

Egbegba said that the Agency would ensure that products released into the environment would not affect human health and the environment.
“It is important for citizens to trust the government as government would do everything to ensure transparency,” he says.

GMO and Climate Change
The Deputy Director claimed that Genetically Modified products help mitigate the impact of Climate Change.

One of the ways to really ameliorate Climate Change is the adoption of plants that can thrive in critical areas like drought resistant plants. Through GMO we can develop plants that are drought resistant that can be planted in drought prone areas to reduce the impact of Climate Change. The basic essence is that some of the chemicals being released to deplete the Ozone layer would be drastically reduced.”

Technology generates jobs

Egbegba who stated that Biosafety was to ensure that modern biotechnology is deployed and used safely to ensure it doesn’t have adverse impact on human and the environment.

“Once it is in that form biotechnology itself can now be employed safely in the area of improvement of the health sector, increased agriculture efficiency and productivity, also the production of raw materials for industrial growth and  also sound and sustainable environment, because with the use of the technology the use of chemicals would be reduced on the environment and also to human health.”  He declared.

He said that the technology could generate jobs and create wealth if safely deployed.

On the importance of a biosafety bill, Egbeba said that without a biosafety law, Nigeria would likely become a dumping ground for GM consuming nations, without verification of the GMO type.


Japan and Nigerian institutions collaborate to help farmers

Japan and Nigerian institutions collaborate to help farmers
Posted on 2nd April, 2013 Back to home

Japan and Nigerian institutions collaborate to help farmers


The Japanese government is collaborating with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Afe Babalola University Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) to help farmers increase produce.

The three institutions, in a joint memorandum of understanding, agreed to demonstrate their commitment to improving cassava production and processing for Agbekoya farmers in Ekiti State, western Nigeria.

Provision of training services
Specifically, IITA will provide the Ekiti State Chapter of Agbekoya Farmers Association, 600 bundles of improved cassava cuttings.

In addition, IITA will provide 30 Agbekoya farmers with trainings in the operation/use of cassava processing machines and 10 Agbekoya farmers with training in the maintenance of cassava processing machines.

The Japanese Embassy on the other hand will provide two cassava processing centres for the farmers while ABUAD would provide monitoring/ training services.

Value addition through processing

At the signing of the MoU in Ibadan on Monday, Dr Kenton Dashiell, Deputy Director General (Partnerships & Capacity Development) for IITA, expressed optimism that the collaboration would contribute to improving the livelihoods of cassava farmers, especially women and youth who play a pivotal role in cassava processing.

According to him, the project in Ekiti will contribute in several ways.

“It will create jobs, improve incomes, open new markets for farmers, and improve the Nigerian economy,” he says.

The deputy director general also noted that the development of cassava along the value chain was critical for Africa to unleash the potential of the root crop.

“To make cassava work for the poor, we need to produce and also process it into products such as Gari, Fufu, high quality cassava flour, etc. We believe that value addition through processing is an important aspect for us to advance the potential of cassava,” Dr Dashiell said.

Giving a background on the collaboration, Dr Dashiell said it was an outcome of an earlier meeting between Dr Nteranya Sanginga, IITA Director General; and the Ambassador, Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, Mr Ryuichi Shoji.

In that meeting, the two leaders agreed to join efforts in alleviating poverty in Africa.

Shoji said the provision of cassava processing centres under the collaboration for farmers was part of efforts to support the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the Nigerian government.

He also thanked IITA for its contribution to the success of the project, adding that the project would alleviate poverty and enhance food security.

The President General of the Agbekoya Farmers, Kamorudeen Aremu Okikiola commended IITA, the Japanese Embassy and ABUAD for their support to farmers.

He called on other development and research organizations in Nigeria to emulate the intervention programme.

Prof Sidi Osho, Vice Chancellor of ABUAD called on the farmers to participate and to ensure that the efforts by IITA, ABUAD and the Japanese Embassy do not go in vain.

Established in 1967, IITA and its major partner, the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), have developed over 40 improved cassava varieties. These varieties are high yielding and resistant to most pest and diseases. Among the varieties are those that are rich in pro-vitamin A developed in collaboration with HarvestPlus.

Efforts by IITA in cassava research have contributed in making Nigeria the world’s largest producer of cassava with about 52 million tons in 2011.






Africa launches ‘No REDD in Africa Network’

Africa launches ‘No REDD in Africa Network’


Africa has taken a historic decision to launch the ‘No REDD in Africa Network’ and join the global movement against Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD).

The ‘No REDD in Africa Network’ initiative was established by the participants at the World Social Forum in Tunisia on Sunday.

Carbon colonialism
Nobel Prize Laureate and former Executive Director of ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria Nnimmo Bassey, said that “REDD is no longer just a false solution, but a new form of colonialism.

“In Africa, REDD+ is emerging as a new form of colonialism, economic subjugation and a driver of land grabs so massive that they may constitute a continent grab. We launch the No REDD in Africa Network to defend the continent from carbon colonialism,” Bassey said.

According to him “In the UN-REDD Framework Document, the United Nations itself admits that REDD could result in the “lock-up of forests,” “loss of land” and “new risks for the poor.”

REDD has been blamed for the rampant land grabs and neocolonialism in Africa.

REDD+ is a carbon offset mechanism whereby industrialized Northern countries use forests, agriculture, soils and even water as sponges for their pollution instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at source.

REDD originally just included forests but its scope has been expanded to include soils and agriculture.

Carbon slavery
In a teach-in session on Sunday, at the World Social Forum Tunis, members of the La Via Campesina,  the world’s largest peasant movement, expressed concerned that REDD projects in Africa would threaten food security and could eventually cause hunger.

A recent Via Campesina study on the N’hambita REDD project in Mozambique found that thousands of farmers were paid meagre amounts for seven years for tending trees. The contract is for 99 years and if the farmer dies his or her children and their children must tend the trees for free.

“This constitutes carbon slavery,” denounced the emerging No REDD in Africa Network. The N’hambita project was celebrated by the UN on the website for Rio+20, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro last year.

“We as Africans need to go beyond the REDD problem to forging a solution.The last thing Africa needs is a new form of colonialism,” Mercia Andrews of Rural Women’s Assembly of Southern Africa emphasised.

The nascent No REDD in Africa Network say REDD and carbon forest projects are resulting in massive evictions, servitude, slavery, persecutions, killings, and imprisonment.

Africans from Nigeria, South Africa, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Mozambique, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania participated in the launch of the No REDD in Africa Network.

According to The New York Times, over 22,000 farmers with land deeds were violently evicted for a REDD-type project in Uganda in 2011 and Friday Mukamperezida, an eight-year-old boy was killed when his home was burned to the ground.

‘REDD could cause genocide’
The Global Alliance of Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Climate Change against REDD and for Life hailed the birth of the NO REDD in Africa Network.

Tom Goldtooth, the Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network says “the initiative signals a growing resistance against REDD throughout the world.

“We know REDD could cause genocide and we are delighted that the Africans are taking a stand to stop what could be the biggest land grab of all time.” He said.










Voice of Nigeria, Lagos