Building on landmark events from the past year, Nigeria’s biotechnology sector is expecting significant progress on two key food and fiber crops in 2019.
Last year, the Nigerian government approved the commercialization of pest-resistant Bt cotton, a major cash crop; began the process of deregulating Bt cowpea, an important food crop; and won a landmark court case that had been filed by anti-GMO crusaders.
The leading institutions in the Bt cowpea project submitted their dossier of research studies on the project to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) in December and expressed optimism that it would be approved and commercialized in the nearest future, [said Dr. Rose Gidado, Nigeria Chapter country coordinator for the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB)], noting that “it was a painstaking process transparently done.”
To date, NBMA has received no objections to the dossier.
“The fact that it is an African-led project done by Nigerian scientists in Nigeria — that’s what we want,” [Gidado] said. “It’s like a technology transfer and the newly-bred-improved cultivars are all Nigerian varieties of beans.”
In addition to Bt cotton and cowpea, Nigeria has other GM crop projects in the pipeline. Confined field trials (CFT) are about to begin on the VIRCA Plus project, which involves virus-resistant cassava nutritionally enhanced with iron and zinc.
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