The Federal Government has said it is moving towards strengthening the collaboration between universities and research institutions to ensure food security for the nation.
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu made this known when he received the senior associate director of international programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (IP CALS), Dr Sarah Davidson Evanega, in his office in Abuja.
He said Nigeria is now almost self-sufficient in rice production from the position of the highest importer of same in 2014.
Onu commended Cornell University’s Alliance for Science for working with agencies in the ministry to communicate science effectively.
Earlier, Dr Evanega, who is also the director, Cornell University’s Alliance for Science, said the organisation is a global communication initiative with a mission to promote global food security, improve environmental sustainability and raise the quality of life globally, pointing out that it had been working to ensure science and evidence-informed policies that would advance agricultural innovations to achieve this mission.
“Since its inception in 2014, the Alliance for Science has worked in close collaboration with National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and the Open Forum for Agricultural Biology in Africa to ensure access to biotechnology innovations in order to enable scientists have access to the tools of biotechnology in order to innovate to meet the great challenges of today,” she said.
She added that the collaboration was to promote science communication using innovative tools and forward leaning strategies for national development.
In his remarks, the overseeing director-general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Mr Oguntunde Abayomi, commended
CAL’s initiative of promoting global food security, improving environmental sustainability and raising the quality of life globally.
Mr Abayomi noted that the Alliance for Science had worked in close collaboration with NABDA through the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, Nigeria Chapter since 2015 when they hosted a global leadership fellows programme where three NABDA staff were trained as fellows of agricultural biotechnology communication and executive programme graduates respectively along with other Nigerians, adding the partnership had continued to grow with more trainings each year involving other institutions.
Over 15 Nigerians, according to him, have benefited from the Cornell trainings.
Abayomi who was represented by the OFAB Nigeria Chapter coordinator, Dr Rose Gidado, noted that the three sister organisations, NABDA, OFAB and Cornell University Alliance for Science share a passion for ensuring access to biotechnology innovations in order to achieve the shared mission.
“The sister organizations, NABDA, OFAB and Cornell University Alliance for Science share a passion for ensuring access to biotechnology innovations in order to achieve the shared mission. They share a dedication to ensuring that scientists continue to have access to the tools of biotechnology in order to innovate to meet the great challenges today.
“This is so critical for Nigeria as she is left with no option than to diversify the economy because of dwindling oil prices. And for Nigeria to diversify, we must make agriculture a business. And for agriculture to be made a business, appropriate technologies like the agric biotechnology must be deployed,” he said.
He also informed the minister of another area of collaboration by the trio – March for Science, saying that Nigeria joined over 1 million people in 600 cities around the world to march in support of science and to stand for science and evidence-based decision making in 2017.
He said Nigeria also planned to join the rest of the world in 2018 to march in solidarity with other science supporters across the globe in support of science in April, adding the book featuring city marches around the world would be released March 2018.