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Production Of Local Vaccine On COVID-19 Reaches Advanced Stage, NABDA Boss

The Director General/ Chief Executive Officer of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha has revealed that, the processes leading to the production of local COVID-19 vaccines have reached an advanced stage.

Mustapha, in an interview with newsmen, shortly after the presentation of awards to journalists who emerged winners at the Continental level at the fourth Edition of Open Forum On Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Africa Media Award 2020,revealed that the team from the Agency in collaboration with both local and international partners has gone to stage three of the vaccine development.

Speaking on the efforts made by the Agency to develop local vaccine, Mustapha said, “Vaccines cannot be developed in one day.

His words :”It has to undergo series of research. Our team has gone to about stage 3 of the vaccine production.

“The vaccine development has to do with so many components.

“We are working with our collaborators from all over the world and within the country.

“We are coming up with something tangible. We hope and envisage that in the next two to three years, we would have our own output from NABDA.”

On the Pod Borer Resistant Maruca(PBR) Cowpea which has been commercialised in Nigeria, the NABDA boss assured that Nigerian farmers would get the high yielding cowpea or beans during the 2021 planting season.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government approved commercialisation of a biotech cowpea variety resistant to pod borers in December 2019.

This development places Nigeria as the first country to commercialise genetically improved cowpea.

The PBR Cowpea Project is a pubic- private partnership that is developing and disseminating cowpea with resistance to Maruca Pod Borer for increased productivity.

The project partnership that brings together leading African and international institutions is led by African Agricultural Technology Foundation(AATF) through support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The project is being implemented in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi.

Stakeholders in the biotechnology said the PBR Cowpea would increase cowpea production through the control of Maruca Pod Borer, as it would increase yields, generate higher incomes to farmers and improved their health through reduced use of harmful chemicals to control pests.

NABDA boss, therefore, tasked journalists to be in the vanguard of disseminating accurate information to the farmers.

He further called on science journalists to avoid fake news, focus on factual reportage of issues that promote the deployment of technology in agricultural development to guarantee food security in Nigeria.

According to him, “It is the duty of the media to monitor all the stages and channels through which the PBR Cowpea seads reach the farmers to ensure that there is no compromise or sharp practices that will deny farmers of maximum benefit the technology offers.”

Also speaking, Country Coordinator of OFAB, Nigerian Chapter, Dr. Rose Gidado, commended Nigerian journalists who participated in the competition for winning awards at the Continental level.

Gidado underscored the need for science journalists to make their reports simple and easy to be understood by readers or audience, urging them to always include human angle in their reportage.

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