70m Farmers Await Presidential Assent on Bio-Safety Bill

About 70 million Nigerian farmers are eagerly awaiting President Goodluck Jonathan’s assent to the Bio-safety Bill, which the National Assembly, recently, passed into law.
The bill, when signed by the President, would provide for a regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanism for safety measures in the application of modern bio-technology in Nigeria, and prevent any adverse effect on human health, plants and animals.
President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, (AFAN), Kabiru Ibrahim, while speaking with Press, said it would enable Nigerian farmers to benefit from high-yielding bio-tech crops and rise above the adverse effects of declining productivity.
Its successful operation would also ensure that Nigerian farmers reap the significant benefits of modern agricultural bio-technology, which is similar to the economic transformation being experienced in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa that adopted this technique to boost their food and cash farming production.
Nigeria, on the other hand, was being constantly hampered since the bill had not been assented to by the President, a delay that could encourage smuggling, as some genetically modified crops, like animal feeds, made from soybean, were in short supply in the country.
Notably, Nigeria, currently, produces only 550,000 tones (25 percent) of its annual soybean requirement, leaving a supply gap of 1.65 million tones (75percent). This gap, according to findings, was being filled from genetically modified crops in compliant countries.
A report from the Federal Ministry of Health stated that “41 percent of Nigerian children, under age five, suffer stunted growth as a result of malnutrition”. Soybean could, however, make up for the nutritional deficiencies in children, if they were, readily, available in the country.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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