Nigeria multi-stakeholder meeting commits to unified biotech outreach
Africa Harvest partnered with the NABDA and the AFSTA to hold a successful multi institutional and multi-stakeholder meeting where the goal was to agree on a unified biotech strategy, given the diversity of the country and competing interests. The meeting was hosted by the OFAB Nigeria Chapter, which operates within NABDA. Given its mandate and role, the NBMA was a key partner in the meeting.
Other institutions represented included the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Seed Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria (SEEDAN), AFSTA, Crop Life International, Africa Harvest, the Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), IAR Zaria, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), National Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI),Badeggi, and the Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
The meeting follows Crop Life’s request for Africa Harvest to work with NABDA/OFAB Nigeria to strengthen OFAB Nigeria’s role as the focal point and single coordinating unit on biotechnology and biosafety outreach in Nigeria. The meeting therefore sought to explore ways of ensuring a unified voice and strategy, especially with regards to issues management and engagement with various government/private entities.
It was also an opportunity for stakeholders to share their plans for 2017 with a view to identifying possible synergies. The meeting also strengthened the database of all biotechnology stakeholders with a view of regular communication and effective issues management. The ARCN Executive Secretary was represented by Mr Yarama Ndirpaya who said the Council would continue to partner with various local and international institutions to get improved technologies to farmers.
The Executive Director, IAR, Zaria, Prof. I. U. Abubakar said agricultural biotechnology was a proven and novel science used all over the world to solve emerging agricultural challenges. He highlighted its positive impact in many countries such as Brazil, Argentina, China and the United States. He recognized the collaborative efforts of AATF, NABDA, Africa Harvest and other organizations working to develop genetically modified (GM) products in Nigeria.
The Director General/CEO of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba said: “NBMA has the responsibility to ensure that an enabling legal framework is created to carry out modern biotech activities and agricultural improvement from small-scale to large-scale through biotechnology.” He commended stakeholders for their efforts to synergize outreach among the biotech stakeholders and seed companies.
The President of SEEDAN, Mr Richard Olafare commended the efforts of OFAB and the collaborating institutions for organizing the meeting. He said the private seed sector was critical in acceptance of biotech products as they are the ones who ensure the products gets to farmers. Africa Harvest Communication Director, Mr Daniel Kamanga, presented a Case Study of Coordination Efforts in Africa.
According to him, agriculture has a big role to play in solving the current challenges faced by Nigeria. He said effective coordination by institutions involved in biotech is critical to public acceptance, farmer adoption and commercialization. To this effect, he proposed some guidelines that could help create synergy among biotechnology institutions:
- Development of a multi-institutional, multi- stakeholder coordination unit.
- An online, central system of on-going biotechnology research as one of the benefits of
- Professional code of conduct to ensure best- practice and compliance among institutions and individuals conducting biotechnology research.
- System of synergizing with international and regional biotech initiatives to ensure they are mainstreamed into the national framework.