The National Biotechnology Development Agency in collaboration with Mahyco Nigeria has held a farmer’s field day to showcase the performance and value of the two Bt Cotton varieties recently approved for commercialization by the National Varietal Release Committee (NVRC), in Abuja Nigeria’s capital.
The release of both varieties is in line with efforts by Nigeria to revive the country’s moribund textile industries and boost the income of cotton farmers.
While speaking at the event, Prof. Alex Akpa, the Acting Director General of National Biotechnological Development Agency (NABDA) said the primary objective of the farmers field day was to demonstrate the value and performance of the technology applied in growing the cotton by farmers.
Professor Akpa said the event would serve as stimulant to government to initiate necessary action for widespread adoption of Mahyco cotton BG2 hybrid seeds by farming communities in the cotton growing states.
“We count this as a great achievement because for years, scientists have laboured under laboratory conditions to proffer solutions to the destructive effects of pink bollworm on our cotton farms and the associated low yield.
”The closest they got to success was the use of pesticides, but this has its own negative effects on the environment and as well plagues the profit margin of the cotton,” he said.
To generate yields at economically viable scales for farmers, Professor Akpa believes that it had become necessary to use advanced technological tools like genetic engineering in crop production.
Akpa described as satisfactory the performances experienced by farmers across 12 states which include: Adamawa, Bauchi, Cross River, Gombe, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Ogun, Sokoto, Taraba and Zamfara.
Dr Rose Gidado, Deputy Director, NABDA and country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB- Nigeria), said the new high yielding varieties will encourage farmers to go back to cotton farming in order to contribute to Nigeria Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dr. Gidado noted that implementation of new technologies is crucial to enhance yields up to four tonnes per hectare instead of less than one tonne per hectare.
She said it is hoped that private sectors, including seed companies, textile industries and wineries will complement the efforts put in so far by taking up the challenges of full-scale commercial deployment.