Agricultural biotechnology can be used to increase food production. It may however be detrimental to health, if not wisely used. This article explores drastic reduction of post harvest losses as a viable avenue to increase food production in Nigeria.
All over the world (especially in advanced countries), there has been ongoing research and outcry on the health implications of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and findings have shown that there are high health risks related to consuming these kinds of food.
If the motive behind the introduction of GMOs to Nigeria is to increase food production, truth is, in Nigeria, we really do not have the challenge of producing some food crops. With vast uncultivated arable land, large human resource, etc, Africa (Nigeria) do have what it takes to be the world’s food power.
One of the impediments to food availability is post harvest loss. There is a very high percentage of post harvest losses in food grains, vegetables and other horticultural crops visible in farms, markets, etc. If post harvest losses can be intelligently tackled, this can more than triple food available for Nigerians. Tackling post harvest losses is to holistically look at the value-chain of agricultural produce and ensure the problem of post harvest loss at each level of the chain is adequately catered to.
First is the provision of storage facilities to the farms, and the training of manpower to use them. It is also important to ensure that processing facilities are provided and the capacity of manpower is built to use them. For instance, horticultural crops like tomatoes rot away in their tonnes on the farm, in transit, and in the market. These can be mitigated by processing these freshly harvested tomatoes into paste.
Haven’t you wondered why the average life span of an urban/ city dweller is shorter that those who reside in the rural areas? One of the chief contributory factors is the unhealthy foods city dwellers consume to the detriment of their health. And because of this unhealthy lifestyle, they fall prey to cancer, tumors, heart-related diseases, diabetes, etc.
Countries, food vendors, supermarkets, etc place a very high premium on organically produced foods across the world. Nigeria, Africa is well positioned to export organically grown foods for huge foreign exchange. This is a potential opportunity!
Nigeria needs to drastically upgrade her research institutes (plant breeding and seed technology; animal breeding and genetics) to meet international standards, and also, build human resources through training/manpower development for skills to function in such capacity. Growth is not overnight.
To rebuild agriculture, Nigeria has to be process-driven to ensure the success of her transformation initiatives.
GMOs companies are gradually losing face overseas, and they know that Africa is an impoverished continent (though potentially great) with gullible people who will ‘jump’ at the opportunity to ‘import’ technology to ‘ease’ their suffering.
Nigeria does not need to embrace GMO. We need to identify and understand our problems, and then proffer appropriate solutions.