Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development says Nigeria is ready to embrace agricultural biotechnology.
He said this on Friday in Iowa at a World News Conference organised by the World Food Prize Foundation (WFPF).
He advocated for an accelerated pace for the use of biotechnology, while calling for appropriate bio-safety regulations.
“Life is all about balancing the risk and we should not be afraid of science.
“The issue of food insecurity we are grappling with today in Africa can be overcome by science.”
Adesina said that through biotechnology, bio-fortified crops such as orange, sweet potatoes, Pro-Vitamin A cassava and drought tolerant maize now hold great promise for feeding the continent.
He explained that the U.S. transformed its agriculture by linking research and development, private sector and farmers thereby turning the nation into the largest producer and exporter of agricultural commodities.
He argued that Africa could also achieve this, adding that 60 per cent of all the available uncultivated arable land in the world was in the continent.
Adesina stressed that there was a new energy and dynamism across the continent that could be seen in an emerging middle class, improved governance and a heightened interest by foreign investors.
He however said that the continent was still grappling with food insecurity and malnutrition.
“For decades, Africa had looked at agriculture through the wrong lenses, seeing agriculture as a development programme, and run by governments.
“We see challenges, we see poverty and we devise solutions for managing poverty; poverty cannot be the comparative advantage of Africa,” He said.
He observed that biotechnology could create accelerated opportunities for millions of farmers to connect to markets, private agribusiness as well as propel them out of poverty into wealth.