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AGRICULTURE & DEVELOPMENT: Nigeria eyes GE crops for food self-sufficiency






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TITLE:  NIGERIA EYES BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY

SOURCE: African Press Agency, Senegal

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.apanews.net/apa.php?page=show_article_eng&id_article=81596

DATE:   27.11.2008

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NIGERIA EYES BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR FOOD SELF-SUFFICIENCY

APA ? Lagos (Nigeria) Nigeria?s Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Sayyadi Ruma on Wednesday said that Nigeria would develop the biotechnology sector to achieve food self-sufficiency and security between now and 2011.

Ruma told a workshop on biotechnology and food security organized by the United States aid agency (USAID) in Jos, about 330km from Abuja that Nigeria still spent about US$3 billion annually on food importation, which he said was unhealthy for the nation.

He added that the Nigerian government believed in the opportunity provided by biotechnology to empower farmers and would, therefore, develop the sector.

?Biotechnology continues to play an increasing role in the world food production chain when properly integrated with other technologies for the production of food.

?It can be of significant assistance to meeting the needs of an urbanized population in the next millennium,? he remarked.

The Nigerian minister said the ministry was soon to sign a memorandum of understanding with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) in Kenya, to introduce biotechnology products to Nigerian farmers.

?Genetic engineering has the potential to increase production in agriculture and this could lead to higher yields in marginal lands in countries that cannot grow enough food to feed their people,? Ruma said.

According to him, rice has been genetically engineered to contain vitamins and iron, which could improve the health of communities, while other biotechnology methods have led to improved food quality and consistency.

?Nigeria lost out in the Green Revolution and will not want to lose out in the ?Gene Revolution,? the minister said, adding that Nigeria had established the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) to help in that regard.


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