Nigeria keen to leverage “Genome Editing” for national development – Ikoh
Nigeria has indicated her willingness to harness the game-changing power of Genome Editing Science, a tool for agricultural and food sustainability, to advance national development.
The assurance was given by the Minister of State for Science, Technology and Innovation, Chief Henry Ikechukwu Ikoh, while declaring open a workshop on “Genome Editing”, which held at Eko Hotel & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria, December 15-16, 2022.
The workshop as gathered, was powered by the African Union Development Agency (ADUA-NEPAD) Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Innovation, in collaboration with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), and aimed at developing Genome Editing National Communication Strategy for Nigeria and A Policy-Science-Practice CoP Dialogue to enhance the domestication and use of Genome Editing Science.
The event would be the first of its kind in Nigeria, attracting who-is-who in the field of scientific research and innovations within the African continent.
Chief Ikoh said the imperative of adopting a modern approach to agriculture, undermined by science, technology and innovation, cannot be over-emphasized, especially for a country like Nigeria with its vast arable land and young population.
According the Minister, food security will remain a mirage without embracing the relevant tools to drive output and sustainability.
He added that the Federal Government’s relentless pursuit of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy is meant to enable the country achieve her economic diversification and growth, with such expected outcomes as job creation, poverty reduction and enhancing the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the organizers, the overarching 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 optimize 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. The communication and advocacy exercise targets senior officials in government, R&D institutions, media, and private sector towards co-creation for commercialization.
The project builds on and complements ongoing AUDA-NEPAD efforts towards enhancing regulatory capacities on Biosafety through the African Biosafety network of Expertise (ABNE). While ABNE’s focus is on regulation to ensure biosafety, the AUDA-NEPAD Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Innovation brings in a focus on innovation and R&D capacities towards the commercialization of genome edited agricultural products to improve livelihoods. This is from the recognition as contained In Agenda 2063 that technological advancements from biotechnological innovations in plant and animal breeding have the potential to advance continental agricultural sustainability goals and transform African societies.
As a follow up to the successful Genome Editing sensitization exercise, the next step is to develop a responsive draft National Communication Strategy for Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Eswatin.