A coalition of Nigerian farmers has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to immediately sign into law the Nigeria National Biosafety Bill passed recently by the National Assembly.
At a press conference on Thursday, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Nigeria requested the president to “do the needful by signing the Biosafety Bill into law and immediately put the necessary machinery of government in motion towards establishing the National Biosafety Management Agency to perform its statutory functions and responsibilities”.
A successful operation of a biosafety law in the country will ensure that over 70 million Nigerian farmers begin to reap the significant benefits of modern agricultural biotechnology like their counterparts in Brazil, India, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa, said the group in a statement signed by Architect Kabiru Ibrahim (president, All Farmers Association), Alhaji H. Kwajjaffa (chairman, National Association of Cotton Farmers) and Alhaji Salmanu Abdullahi (president, Cotton Growers Association).
The proposed law provides a regulatory framework as well as institutional and administrative mechanism for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria with a view to preventing any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants and the environment.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. It contributes at least 22% to the GDP and remains the largest employer of labour in the country. With the collapse of oil prices, the need for agric transformation in Nigeria has become more urgent.
Until the biosafety law is put in place, none can apply the technology to realise high-yielding biotech crops, said Dr Abolade Samuel Afolabi, director of research, Sheda Science & Technology Complex, Abuja, on the occasion.