By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government, through the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has announced that farmers would be supplied the newly released Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea (beans) for the 2021 planting season.
The Director-General of the agency, Mr Abdullahi Mustapha, disclosed this during the presentation of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Media Award prizes to the recipients.
This follows the decision by the Varietal Release Committee, which approved the commercial release of the PBR cowpea which has been genetically modified for planting.
The NABDA DG said a National Stewardship Committee has been inaugurated to monitor the multiplication and distribution of the variety of the new beans.
“The recently released PBR cowpea will be getting to farmers this planting season, this stage of commercialisation requires the active involvement of the media to ensure that farmers get value for their money.
“It is also the duty of the media to monitor all the stages and channels, through which the PBR cowpea seeds reach the farmers to ensure that there is no compromise or sharp practice that will deny farmers the maximum benefit the technology offers.
“A National Stewardship committee to monitor the PBR Cowpea has been inaugurated, I encourage you to work closely with the committee and inform Nigerians what is happening with the PBR cowpea,” Mr Mustapha stated.
He further said; “Our agricultural biotechnology in the country is fast developing as we, in collaboration with other research institutes, released Bt. cotton and Bt. cowpea.”
Mr Mustapha, therefore, charged on science journalists to avoid fake news, focus on factual news that promotes the deployment of technology in various aspects of development including agriculture especially, as Nigeria strategies on how to feed its teeming population.
He said at NABDA, the promotion, coordination, and deployment of cutting-edge biotechnology research and development, processes, awareness creation and products for the socio-economic well-being of the nation shall remain their priority.
In her remarks, the Country Coordinator of OFAB, Mrs Rose Gidado, explained that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the recipients of the award were unable to get their prizes because they attend the event which was held in Nairobi, Kenya virtually.
She called for more support from the journalists as Nigeria is entering its first phase of commercialisation of genetically modified crops.
“We will continue to seek your partnership and your cooperation, I know you have supported us so well till this time, we need you more than ever, because this is the critical time because of the commercialisation that has started in Nigeria on BT Cotton and BT cowpea,” she added.
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