NIGERIA - Renowned agriculturist and food security expert, Dr. Joseph Odusanya, has called on the federal government to embrace the cutting-edge bio-crops biotechnology, the latest innovation in plantlets and seed multiplication, as the solution to the country’s food challenge.
He said that the massive deployment of the technology will improve the country’s foreign exchange.
Odusanya, who is the Chief Executive Officer, of Bio-crops Biotechnology, made the disclosure weekend, while conducting the Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTDA), Mr. John Chukwu, around the plant and seed multiplication laboratories and farms in Abuja.
According to him, the recent ban on certain food item is a good omen for the country, adding: “In terms of food insecurity, now we have the new cutting edge technology to increase the production of the various crops within the country.
The aeroponics can be deployed for instance to mass produce disease free yams in a secluded cultured air environment without cultivating the soil.”
Bio-crops biotechnology, Odusanya, added can also be used to produce 15 enriched species of sweet potatoes within a short time of gestation. The varieties he acknowledged were gotten from the national potatoes centre in Kenya.
He said it has become expedient therefore that government at all levels should key into the technology to make food available for Nigerians.
“This is the reason, why we want to align with federal government and the 36 states governments to key into this food security and job creation programme to increase productivity in the agriculture sector, Odusanya added.
According to him, the company is basically into mass multiplication of different plantlets for the large, medium and small agricultural farmers while removing all forms of drudgery in farming practices.
“Here in Abuja, we have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the FCT department for Science and Technology, in the sense that they have provided the space for our labs.
We in return share our technical know-how and how to use the technology with them. We are sharing knowledge and staff with them to using them as a base to reach the small scale farmers in the FCT and across the country.” the CEO said.
On the aeroponics technology for yams multiplication, he said: “Take for example the aeroponic system, our farmers depend on seedlings from the yam for planting.
With aeroponic facilities we are now able to get clean seed yams and those seed yams are free from virus and nematods that affect the yams with the system there will increase yields of about 10 fold, income and also productivity is enhanced and therefore there is more food in the country.
“Now we can talk about the 15 new varieties of potatoes that we just got from the international potatoes organization, those potatoes were brought into the country with the hope to key into the school feeding programme, like now the FCT administration are complaining that their contractors do not have the food to key into their programme.
“With this new technology, those varieties of potatoes that we have are quality ones and are free from bacterial infection and highly productive and with that when we multiple here and give them to the farmers, school clubs will now use to multiply the potatoes and the potatoes provide food and this can go a long way in helping to actualise the school feeding programmes thereby providing for the schools and income for the farmers and the country is better for it.
He said the company had concluded arrangement to train to train 10,000 nursery operators in order to take care of the plantlets, adding: “Here we are doing the multiplication the hardening and we are also doing the media preparation, everything from A-Z, but if this empowered and more investments come in we will now share this into group.
These facilities here have the capability of producing 4 million plantlets like banana, potatoes cassava per annum. We alone cannot handle that 4 million so we need more nursery operators to come and work with us.”
In a remark, Chukwu, after inspecting the facilities said: “I’m impressed with the facilities that I see here today and I regret that I have not been here earlier than now. I’m happy that this is happening in FCT.
“I doubt if there is any state that can equal what is being done and it shows the potential that we have a nation. We are going to put more emphasis on the development of our expertise in this area, as yam can be grown in the air disease free.”
I have asked that these plantlets be multiplied and given to the Area Councils for mass production. He advised the company to be proactive in marketing the technology across the country, adding that the country can no longer rely on food import to survive.