Researches, teachers, consultants and agro-entrepreneurs have proffered some panaceas that may boost nutrition and food security, national development, economic empowerment.
They suggested the ways forward during their two-day symposium/workshop held at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State.
Organised by the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria BSN in its second South-East Zonal symposium, with the theme “Biotechnology for National Development, Economic & Food/Nutrition Security,” the symposium discussed various approaches to attaining food and nutrition security.
BSN President, Professor Mohammed Yerima, said that to ensure food and nutrition security, it was imperative to look at new options in new technologies that are beneficial to farmers and also acceptable to consumers.
BSN chairperson for South-East Zone, Dr (Mrs) Tochukwu Ogbulie, said the core goals of the symposium were to explain clearly the key concept of biotechnology within the context of unifying themes and help young scientists develop positive and realistic impressions of biotechnology as science involving process or inquiry.
Chairman of the Symposium Local Organizing Committee, Professor Chiedozie Egesi, said that biotechnology is critical to catalysing solutions to Nigeria’s food and nutrition security and stimulate entrepreneurship along critical value chains within the ecosystem.
According to him, “the Nigerian economy, as a matter of urgency, is in dire need of technologies that can buffer the gross effect of climate change, environmental degradation and gross economic crunch induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Vice-Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Prof. Maduebibisi Ofo Iwe, urged stakeholders to harness biotechnological tools and techniques to boost the productivity of crops and animals for food and industrial uses.
A former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. James Ogbonna, who was the keynote speaker, advised farmers to cultivate the right varieties of crops and tasked the government to make such available to the farmers at reasonable prices.
Other resource persons during the plenary were Ms Obiageli Ezeokoli, Dr Nnaemeka Ndodo and various stakeholders, directors and deans from NRCRI and MOUAU who presented research papers under the sub-themes of Crop and Animal Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology, Environmental Biotechnology, Advances in Medical Biotechnology, Biotechnology in Food and Nutrition, Bioinformatics and Big Data, Bio-economics and Bio-entrepreneurship, Biosafety, Regulation and Communication.
While declaring the symposium open, Executive Director of the host NRCRI, Prof. Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, called for awareness creation, adoption and application of tools as recommended by the researchers to justify the purpose of the workshop and achieve its objectives.