Executive Director of African Agricultural Technology Foundation(AATF), Dr. Canisius Kanangire, says no fewer than 346 million people in Africa are afflicted with food crisis.
He stated that food insecurity is number one threat to economic growth and general insecurity on the Continent.
According to him, “Without food security, African continent becomes porous, susceptible to many other crises.”
He identified climate change, escalating conflicts, unproductive farming as some of the challenges confronting African farmers.
To address food insecurity plaguing the Continent, Kanangire harped on the need for African countries to embrace the deployment of agricultural biotechnology to ensure food security, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
He pointed out that agricultural biotechnology has suffered from “unwarranted criticisms,” from anti-genetically modified groups, adding that science is replete with information that Genetically Modified Organisms(GMOs) are safe for human consumption.
He therefore, tasked science journalists to correct misinformation about modern biotechnology, noting that journalists should contribute to the creation of enabling environment for agricultural biotechnology.
He argued that effective communication is central to improving diversity and inclusion problems inherent in science.
Commenting on the essence of the OFAB Media Awards, Executive Director of AATF, said it was put together “to promote excellence in science journalism and appreciate journalists’ contributions to the development of agricultural biotechnology.”
In his opening remarks, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), said Nigeria was committed to deploying science and technology as one of the anchors of the nation’s quest to accelerate its development.
Mustapha stated that it was what informed the establishment of NABDA in 2001 with the mandate to carry out well-focused research and development in biotechnology in priority areas of food and agriculture, health, industry, environment and other strategic sectors for national development.
He further explained that to reap the benefits of biotechnology, the Federal Government of Nigeria also established the National Biosafety Management Agency(NBMA) saddled with the responsibility of ensuring adequate level of protection in the field of safe transfer, handling, and use of GMOs resulting from modern biotechnology and other technologies.
Also speaking, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, Prof. Umaru Pate, urged science journalists to fight misinformation, disinformation and malinformation about agricultural biotechnology through well-researched, factual and evidence-based reports.
Pate also charged journalists to embark on investigative journalism to expose scandals in the agricultural sector as well as help farmers to have accurate information that would enhance their productivity.
He noted that African contributions to agricultural development in the world has been low, in spite of the huge arable land on the continent.