New Telegraph

Spurring creativity, productivity with OFAB media grant

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), recently marked the inaugural OFAB Day which is celebrated simultaneously in eight African countries. CALEB ONWE reports

 

It was an epoch making event as some select media practitioners gathered in the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT) at the behest of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology ( OFAB) to mark the special day.

While the Nigerian participants gathered physically, they interacted virtually with other participants across Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

 

Participants were not only elated for having the opportunity to interface and gain more knowledge from scientists and biotechnology experts , but to hear that OFAB had instituted a special grant to spur media practitioners who are working hard to communicate the ideals of biotechnology.

 

The ultimate goal is to make it acceptable not only to farmers but to other critical stakeholders in the agriculture sector across the continent.

 

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation ( AATF) the promoters of OFAB and organisers of the event, disclosed that African Journalists, especially those who report science were exceptional people, but need economic empowerment to compete favorably with their peers in developed countries.

 

The celebration was spirit lifting for the participants, especially the two Nigerian broadcast and print journalists who clinched the chance to get the grant, alongside many beneficiaries from other African countries.

 

Inside Abuja gathered that this was the first phase of the grant, as it would be an annual event conceived to help in building the capacity of hardworking media practitioners, and also ameliorate their plights.

 

Though, the actual amount of the grant was not made public, it was gathered that the money was substantial and would help the beneficiaries widen their scope of biotechnology research and reporting, while striving for productivity and excellence in their chosen career  Executive Director of AATF, Dr. Canisius Kanangire, who addressed the gathering via zoom, said the media has pioneered effective communication which has, in no small measures, deepened the acceptance of biotechnology in Africa.

 

Kanangire particularly paid glowing tributes to Nigerian Journalists for promoting public knowledge leading to environmental and commercial release, of Bt. Cotton and that of the podborer resistant Bt. cowpea.

 

It was learnt that the media grant was part of measures which AATF has put on ground to ensure that biotechnology was properly propagated and accepted in Africa as a panacea for the troubling food insecurity ravaging the continent.

 

According to Kanagire, the AATF will collaborate with relevant stakeholders in the journey to advance agricultural biotechnology which, he said, will contribute significantly to transforming the agriculture sector by filling the gaps in the respective countries.

 

Nigerian government officials who were present at the event, expressed delight that some media practitioners in the country were able to get the grant from the continental agricultural and food security promoter.

 

Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, said OFAB in Africa, has contributed significantly to educating the populace on the importance of adopting biotechnology in growing agriculture and food production.

 

According to him, before the advent of OFAB, Nigerian populace didn’t know much about the importance of biotechnology nor the role it plays in food security.

He noted that the role media practitioners in Nigeria played in educating not only farmers, but all stakeholders about biotechnology was very significant.

 

Mustapha said: “In Nigeria, issues of biotechnology and genetic engineering were totally absent in public discuss until OFAB came to the scene. With OFAB, the country is more at home with biotechnology.

 

No project or programme has reached out to Nigerians in the 36 states, 774 local government areas and the six geopolitical zones of the country like OFAB.”

 

Country Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria, Dr. Rose Gidado, was another official who was elated that Nigerian media practitioners benefited from the first phase of the grant. Inside Abuja learnt that Gidado as a scientist had been in the forefront of advocacy for the adoption of biotechnology in Nigeria’s agriculture.

She disclosed that the grant programme would accommodate more qualified journalists who are ready to contribute to the development of scientific research and communications.

 

Gidado also noted that over the years, OFAB had remained committed to bridging the knowledge gap between the scientific and non-scientific community.

 

“The platform was created to correct the negative information about the tech-  nology. That gap is bridged by sharing knowledge and information and we feel we have recorded enough success stories premised on our activities.

 

We decided to set aside a day to celebrate those gains to hoist us to the next level,” she added. Also, the Head of Planning,

 

Research and Statistics, Agricultural Science Council of Nigeria, ARCN, Dr. Aliyu Medugu, who was present at the event, applauded OFAB for the gesture and other efforts it had put into advocacy for the adoption of biotechnology in Nigeria and Africa.

 

Medugu noted that ARCN being the major government agency that have an oversight over all research institutes in the country, have been working closely with OFAB to ensure that all the research components of its works received a boost.

 

 

He disclosed that ARCN and NABDA have been collaborating in fighting the menace of food insecurity.

 

Medugu said with the adoption of biotechnology and some of its crops already released to Nigerian farmers, there was the possibility of crashing food prices in the country.

 

‘‘The BT Cowpea is a new product in the market. Accessing the seeds is not possible for some farmers because it got exhausted; only three companies were awarded the right to make production of such seeds. COVID 19 has also denied some farmers some farming inputs.

 

‘‘I am happy OFAB, NABDA and Seed Council are currently trying to see how they could bring in other seed companies so that the production will be more and farmers will have access. With biotechnology, every other thing will be addressed,” he said

Read Previous

Deaf community seeks inclusion in society

Read Next

Lagos’ path to sustainable environment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *