The Director General/Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO) of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, has disclosed that the research agency is targeting 2500 cows for artificial insemination next year to bring about genetic improvement of Nigerian indigenous cattle to boost milk and beef production.
The NABDA DG/CEO, a Professor of Chemistry, recently bestowed with an Excellence Award by the Chemical Society of Nigeria, made the disclosure in a speech delivered during the Annual Media Chat that took place at the agency’s headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Prof. Mustapha, appointed as the substantive head of NABDA two years ago by President Buhari Muhammadu, initiated the Annual Media Chat in 2021, to create a forum for direct interface with journalists and the management to share the agency’s success stories for the current year and plans for the succeeding year.
Addressing the newsmen present at the media chat, he said one of the projects in NABDA worthy of note for 2022 was “The genetic transformation of livestock through artificial insemination for milk and meat improvement. This is part of our contribution to increasing livestock quality and productivity through biotechnology, as this can help to alleviate poverty and hunger, reduce the threats of diseases and ensure environmental sustainability in Nigeria.
“For the project, 250 cows were identified and 152 were successfully inseminated. While we wait for the first generation this year, we are targeting 2,500 cows next year across the country. NABDA is poised to make this initiative a success story, such that the genetic transformation of our local livestock will produce an improved variety of livestock capable of producing 15 litres of milk per cow daily.”
The NABDA helmsman informed the media professionals that the African Union (AU) has recognised the vital role Nigeria was playing in the advancement and sustenance of biotechnology on the African continent.
“It would interest you to know that the African Union has identified Nigeria’s role as crucial in the creation and sustenance of biotechnology as a blueprint for Africa’s development. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in partnership with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) is developing an initiative to advance science, technology and innovation in Nigeria through the promotion of genome editing technology.
“The project will strengthen institutional linkages in Genome Editing, optimize agriculture, as well as develop the baseline to enhance research and development. In furtherance of this initiative, a three-day genome editing (GE) intervention meeting was recently organised to create a platform for engagement with high level officials towards the buy-in of Genome Editing tool, held in the six pilot countries: Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Eswatini and Zambia. There will be a follow-up meeting this month, to create a forum to connect state and non-state actors in policy, science, practice and the media to strategize and garner support for the effective domestication and use of biotechnology and genome editing tools to help transform agriculture in Africa,” he divulged.
The NABDA boss also announced the agency’s readiness for the commercialization of a locally developed means of power generation known as biodigester.
Hear him: “I am very pleased to inform you that our groundbreaking research enterprises are not merely extending the vistas of academic knowledge, but also creating opportunities for industrial development and revenue generation. Earlier this year, NABDA was granted a patent for its innovative system termed; Biomethanisation System for Biodegradable Organic Feedstock.
“This was borne from one of NABDA’s Flagship programmes; Bioenergy Development Programme, designed for Waste to Energy generation; where the biodegradable organic waste stream is converted to biogas for heating, lighting, electricity generation and bio-fertilizer.
“To enhance mass adoption and sustainability of this technology in Nigeria, the Bioenergy Project Team of the Environmental Biotechnology Department in the agency, developed modular and portable biodigester system that is highly optimised to enhance process efficiency. The biodigester which is available in different sizes was conceived, developed, fabricated and patented with many materials sourced locally.
“With the epileptic power supply being experienced across the country, households can acquire small units of biodigesters for use with reasonable amount of electricity generation for small domestic appliances. The patented biodigester is ready for commercialisation and interested stakeholders are welcome to enhance country-wide mass adoption.”
He added: “Our efforts to drive national development through partnerships are yielding results, one of which is the recent grant the Agency got from the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). This grant is in recognition of the importance of our Anaerobic Digestion Technology to the power sector. More so, NABDA has a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with REA to evolve a Biogas Digester for optimised off-grid electricity supply in some of their facilities.”
Prof. Mustapha averred that the various partnerships entered into by NABDA are strategic to the country’s economic growth as they come with human capacity development and technology transfer.
He revealed that many African countries have visited the research agency to learn from Nigeria’s biotechnology experience and gather information on how they can drive development in their nations through the ethical use of biotechnology.
He further noted that “NABDA’s strategic efforts to bridge the gap between research institutions and the pharmaceutical industry for improved healthcare services are yielding fruits. Recently, NABDA signed a Memorandum of Agreement with RAHAD Industries and Mesencell Biotechnology. This development has enhanced Nigeria’s preparedness to roll out regenerative medicine. Very soon, Nigerians will be able to access top-notch stem-cell-technology-based treatment in the country.”
According to him, the partnership will also lead to “the development of cost-effective and environment-friendly bio-organic fertilizers and clean water technology for Nigerians. This development is salutary as bio-organic fertilizers will enhance yields and boost the income of farmers without harming the environment or compromising human health.”
Responding to a question on how the agency is addressing the misconception and misinformation usually spread by those opposed to the application of modern biotechnology, the DG/CEO said he was pleased that most Nigerians have come to understand and embrace the technology.
He stated that the agency will continue to engage the media as a veritable tool for public enlightenment and national development, to educate those averse to biotechnology on its safety and significance to the country’s economy.
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