By Sylvester Thompson, Abuja.
Nigeria is hosting five other member states of the African Union (AU) to strategise on the use and adoption of genome editing technology in boosting agricultural productivity.
This is contained in a statement issued by Mrs Toyin Omozuma, Press Secretary to the Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, in Abuja on Monday.
She said that the AUDA-NEPAD project was initiated and driven by member states of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Eswantini and Zambia.
She said: “It is a three-day writing workshop to develop a Genome Editing National Communication Strategy for Nigeria, starting December 12 to 14 in Lagos.
“The workshop is also meant to underscore the importance of this cutting-edge technology, deepen public understanding as well as build confidence in agricultural research and biotechnology.”
In the statement, NABDA’s Director-General, Mustapha, said that the broad spectrum of stakeholders should look forward and be responsive to the adoption and domestication of the genome editing tool and products in the country.
Dr Shakirat Ajenifujah-Solebo, Acting Director, Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Department, who is facilitating the AUDA-NEPAD Project, said that the workshop would bring together Nigerian scientists, media and relevant stakeholders.
Ajenifujah-Solebo said that this would explore outcomes of the appraisal exercise conducted during the in-country consultations, which sought the buy-in by national stakeholders.
She also said that lead experts were already identified from the six AU member states to constitute a continental platform for gene editing.
Ajenifujah-Solebo said this was to enable a consolidated science-based approach to emerging agricultural transformation technologies in Africa.
She said: “The goal of the Genome Editing (GEd) project is to foster a broader understanding of GEd among different stakeholder groups, through communication and advocacy for enhanced uptake of the tool to optimise agriculture in Africa.
“This includes support to the achievement of key development outcomes, such as adapting to climate change and reducing poverty and sustainability of food systems.”
Genome Editing can be described as a technique for improving food crops, enhancing yields, quality and increasing quantity.
With its application, Nigerians are assured of food security, increased productivity and sustainable environment.