Gates Foundation to Build Standard Biotech Lab in Nigeria

Date Posted: 
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an independent and Non-governmental Organisation, has concluded arrangement to build a standard biotechnology laboratory to help build human capacity in national programmes in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.A statement by the Head, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Mrs. Rose Gidado, hinted that the disclosure was made in Abuja when a representative of the Foundation paid a courtesy visit to the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Okon Bassey Ewa, during his exploratory visit to the country on the proposed Biotechnology Laboratory.He stated: "My mission in Nigeria as mandated by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to see the possibilities of empowering Nigeria: the National Systems, Programmes in Nigeria, to have the capacity to use biotechnology laboratory technologies for crop improvement"."There are new sets of tools called biotechnology tools used nowadays worldwide to improve crops and these technologies are very complex and so far there are a number of crops developed using biotechnology tools, tested in various African countries including Nigeria. The crops have also been used even within Africa."The idea now is how to empower national programmes in Africa, and Nigeria in specific to train people on how to use facilities so that they can produce these crops independently and Nigerians can have the capacity to decide on how to use these technologies in consideration of national regulatory system."The crops we are focusing on involves national priority crops in Nigeria, which include soybeans, rice, maize, once we establish the capacities, human and also infrastructure and once you are able to make these types of crops, you can choose any crop of national interest to apply the process," he noted."The National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has made progress in the past 10 years in conducting sorghum field experiment for national benefit. It is based on these progress and interaction that the Director-General, Prof. Bamidele Solomon had with Bill Gates Foundation that we are here together to show potential interest."We are interested in this technology, now, Nigeria is at the stage of field trials and the Bill Gates Foundation wants to see if other steps can be taken, because the field trials were conducted with plants from oversea. The basic idea is if we can empower Nigerian institutions, NABDA, in particular, instead of importing these plants, if we can produce them here in Nigeria, it will be pay better. That is what Bill Gates Foundation is contemplating to support Nigeria for," he added.Click here to view full article on AllAfrica.com