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Federal government has commenced a confinement field trial on genetically modified root starch shelf-life elongation for cassava and cowpea varieties at various institutes in the country.

Also, genetically modified cassava root starch will keep longer than the conventional one after harvest, while rice has been modified to provide essential ingredients that farmers were struggling with in the past.

Speaking, Dr. Rose Gidado of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) told The Guardian that International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) handled cassava and cowpea.She explained that genetic manipulation was devised to complement organic and conventional farming and streamline production processes, saying that they are working to bring out genetically modified products.

“Most of the institutes have been undertaking researches using conventional plant breeding methods, which has proven to be deficient in addressing new challenges facing farmers in the country,” she said.Explaining further, Gidado maintained that with optimal use of modern biotechnology, there was a new hope, adding that industrial farming and food production have propelled a dramatic shift in global agricultural trends.

She added that the World Bank had predicted that there will be need to produce 50 per cent more food by 2050, which means that it has already been foreseen that world’s population would increase to 10 billion by then.According to her, modern biotechnology usages would increase agricultural productivity per acre, as well as ensure drought resistant crops and reduction in the need for fertilizers and pesticides sprays.

She, however, stressed that these would facilitate adequate food production globally, while there would be cassava cultivation in rural areas for consumption and export. “With outstanding yields using modern biotechnology tools, farmers are motivated to cultivate, while new individuals will find it rewarding to start agricultural production.

“Globally, various organisations such as United Nations (UN) have created an enabling environment for scientists to explore opportunities in Nigeria to ensure that risks associated with new techniques are addressed,” she added.




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