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Nigerian farmers discouraged from trying GM cotton: expert

Jul '19
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
Ignorance is pushing some community leaders to discourage Nigerian farmers from trying transgenic cotton seeds, according to Ibrahim Igomu, a member of the textile revival implementation committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who suggested agricultural extension workers to directly engage community and farm leaders to share the benefits of the technology.

The Nigerian Government approved the commercialisation of two home-grown Bt cotton varieties to tackle the devastating bollworm pest. The cotton varieties were developed by Mahyco Nigeria Private Ltd. in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria.

Rose Maxwell Gidado, country coordinator for the Nigeria chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), said the nation is now completing final trials, with over 1,000 farmers cultivating the genetically-modified (GM) crop in different cotton growing zones.

Seeds are currently being multiplied for full scale commercialisation in the 2020 planting season, she added.

“The extension officers are not doing enough enlightenment in telling the farmers there is nothing wrong with genetically enhanced seeds, that the only difference is that they are more disease-resistant and have higher yields,” Igomu feels.

Some farmers are so conservative that they want to continue using the same seeds their forefathers used, a press release from the Cornell Alliance for Science quoted Igomu as saying. He likened the advent of transgenic seeds to the introduction of the polio vaccine.

US-based Cornell Alliance for Science seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability and raising the quality of life globally.

Igomu, who is a former national chairman of the Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association (NTMA), said extension agents, farm leaders and transgenic technology advocates should engage in town hall discussions using their local languages to discuss the new technology, which is more efficient than conventional growing methods. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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