Nigeria’s agri-biotech development trails South Africa, others

Nigeria is lagging behind in the agricultural biotechnology revolution as other African nations leap forward in its adoption, resulting in unprecedented transformation of their respective economies.

Biotechnology is any technological application using biological systems, living organisms, or their derivatives to make or modify products for specific human benefits.

South Africa, the world’s eighth largest grower of biotech crops, became the first African country to adopt genetically modified (GM) crops with commercial approvals in 1997.    

According to data from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the total biotech crop area for South Africa in 2013 was 2.9 million hectares. The economic gain from biotech crops in the country between 1998 and 2012 was $1.15 billion, and $218.5 million for 2012.

However, without commercial GM crop practices, ISAAA does not regard Nigeria as a biotech country. The country had a GM pro-Vitamin A cassava released in December 2011 by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan. Other GM crops such as rice, sweet potato, sorghum and yam are only at experimental or field trial stage.

Nigeria, through the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), in July 2013 joined Ghana and Uganda to participate in a research to introduce GM rice in Africa.

While Ghana and Uganda have already commenced phase one of the project, Mark Ukwungwu, NCRI acting Executive Director, said Nigeria would rather build on the results from their trials.

Read full, original article: Nigeria lags behind as South Africa, others take biotech leap


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