Govt endorses two varieties of GM cotton for farmers

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Cotton farmers in Nigeria may have been given a lifeline following the registration of two Bt Cotton varieties by the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Materials.

The genetically-modified (GM) Bt Cotton is said to have failed in Burkina Faso, with farmers making claims from Monsanto

The Director/CEO, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, said the approval and registration were granted at the 26th meeting of the committee which held recently in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Akpa said the registration marked the entry into the nation’s agricultural system, the first home-grown genetically modified crop.

“Bt Cotton varieties that have just been registered are highly viable when compared to the local conventional alternative; the yield is 4.1 to 4.4 tonne per hectare while the local variety is 600 to 900kg per hectare,” he said.

According to him, there are other crops undergoing confined field trials at various stages in different research institutes across the country.

He said: “With this development, Nigeria has demonstrated that it has the institutional capacity and human resources to safely deploy genetic engineering in the agricultural sector. This feat achieved by this registration goes to show also that the Federal Government’s investment in our research institute is not in vain. With encouragement and support from the government, Nigeria has registered its home-grown GM cotton, saving our farmers the trouble of contending with the local conventional variety which is no longer accepted at the international market,” he added.

Akpa noted that the development has a wider implication for the socio-economic development of Nigeria as the comatose textile industries that have been under lock and key over the years now have a hope of resuming production as farmers will have access to high- yielding cotton variety.

He said the new variety has the potential of being adopted in all cotton growing zones of Nigeria with maturity of 150  to 160 days.

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