The low adoption of science and technology in agricultural practices in Africa is responsible for its little level of productivity, yield and inability to compete globally, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology has said.
Onu, in his speech at a national stakeholders’ sensitisation and awareness workshop on animal biotechnology application and regulatory perspectives, said that science and technology constitute more than 90 percent of modern agriculture.
The workshop was recently convened by the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
The minister stated that the low adoption of technology had adversely affected African economies with negative implications for the peoples’ livelihood, adding that while rural people strive to feed themselves, urban residents spend most of their earnings on food.
In his words, “Africa’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, where its people grow crops and also keep livestock. It is estimated that agriculture accounts for about 35 percent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 40 percent of its exports and 70 percent of its employment.
“Except for a few countries, the sector is characterised by the lowest productivity in the world. This is due mainly to the inappropriate application of science, technology and innovation.
“This results in low yield and inappropriate utilisation of resources. When we apply science, technology and innovation to agriculture, many of the problems and challenges we are confronted with at present will be solved as is the case in some parts of the world,” Onu added.
On his part, the Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Abduallahi Mustapha, said that the workshop was majorly informed by factors including rapid development in modern biotechnology to address some of the pressing needs for Nigeria and the African continent.
Mustapha added that the workshop was also designed as a platform for sober discussions that will not only improve understanding of the opportunities but also identify the challenges that the nations will have to tackle if the opportunities are to be translated into wealth for, and health of, their people.
“We hope that the discussions will not be just for the benefit of technical people but that they will help sensitise African governments on the issues and actions needed at national or regional levels,” he said.