Biotech Updates

Nigeria Needs More Community Engagement on GM Cotton from Agricultural Extension Workers

July 10, 2019

In 2018, two Bt cotton varieties have been approved for commercialization by the Nigerian federal government. The GM cotton varieties, developed by Mahyco Nigeria Private Ltd. in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, were designed to address the major yield losses in cotton caused by the bollworm insect pest. Currently, over a thousand farmers are given free seeds and are participating in the GM crop's final trials conducted in different cotton zones in Nigeria. Dr. Rose Maxwell Gidado, country coordinator for the Nigeria chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) states that the "full scale commercialization" shall take place in 2020.

However, some community leaders continue to discourage local farmers from using the pest-resistant GMO cotton seeds. Furthermore, the efforts of the extension officers to clarify the farmers' doubts regarding the genetically enhanced seeds seem to be insufficient. Direct community engagement by agricultural extension workers and farm leaders is then called for to enhance the acceptance and use of the GMO cotton seeds by Nigerian farmers.

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