The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina on Friday announced that the country was not being exposed to Genetically Modified foods and seeds as was widely reported.
Akinwumi who spoke at the 32nd Section of the Magazine Leadership Forum organized by the Newsworld and Pilot Newspaper, however said there were only biotechnological crops in Nigeria which he said were of natural sources.
“What we have in Nigeria is biotechnologically improved crops to raise yields for farmers and not genetically modified crops as being speculated’’, he said.
Recalls, there were insinuations that the Minister of Agriculture and the Federal Government were in the process of opening the country to Genetically Modified foods and seeds which is not only capable of damaging the soil and produce resistant varieties of weeds and bacteria but was linked to cancer and obesity as well as deaths of animals.
The minister said the current turnaround of the sector was as a result of its determination to fight corruption in the seed sector and in the area of fertilizer distribution.
According to him, formerly, the seed sector was selling seeds to the farmers, including fertilizers but in 90 days we were able to take the government out of selling and distribution of fertilizers, leaving everything in the hands of private sector.
He attributed these laudable achievements to the reforms introduced by the ‘Transformation Agenda’ of President Goodluck Jonathan especially in the area of distribution of fertilizers to farmers free of charge.
He said the reform was done in collaboration with states using regional directors to bridge the gap between the federal government and the farmers.
“We decentralised the entire ministry and today, we have 36 offices and six regional directors, each in the geopolitical zones of the country to ensure close contact with farmers’’, he said.
According to him, the ministry introduced Electronic Wallet System to access the farmers and their information, adding that Nigeria was the first in the world to adopt wallet system, saying that so far 8 million farmers had been registered.
He lamented poor mobile penetration in the rural areas but assured that Tap Technology was introduced through UK government to salvage the situation, saying, “We want to make this sector productive, viable and competitive intense of technology.”
The minister said a lot of improvements had made in rice, cocoa, cotton, cassava and palm oil production in the country.