VC lists gains by ABU scientists in agricultural biotechnology

VC lists gains by ABU scientists in agricultural biotechnology

2023-03-15 14:46:17By
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VC lists gains by ABU scientists in agricultural biotechnology

• Says first genetically modified crop in Nigeria was successfully developed by IAR researchers


The Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Kabiru Bala, has described his institution as a pacesetter in agricultural biotechnology, saying that the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) successfully developed and released the first Genetically Modified (GM) crop in Nigeria for commercial cultivation.

Listing the gains made by scientists from the premier institution at the 34th Annual Conference of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN), which began in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, today, Prof. Bala said that IAR also released Nigeria’s first ever Bt_Cotton (MAHYCO C571 BGII and MAHYCO C567 BGII) in collaboration with MAHYCO Pvt Ltd in 2018.

The Vice-Chancellor, who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Prof. Junaid Kabir, also said that the world’s first genetically modified cowpea was registered and approved for release to small holder farmers in Nigeria in 2019.

He pointed out that this was at the pinnacle of IAR’s achievement in collaboration with various local and international partners, most notably the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, the Commonwealth Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre in the US.

Prof. Bala went further to explain that the new variety, SAMPEA 20-T, carries a microbial insecticidal gene, making it resistant to a major pest affecting the crop.  

In addition, he said, the IAR’s TELA Maize project aims to develop a maize cultivator resistant to stem borers and fall armyworm, drought tolerant, and has shown promise.

He explained that preliminary yield data has shown that the variety produces nine tons per hectare as against three tons by the best-producing maize variety in Nigeria.

The Vice-Chancellor further described ABU as the pioneer institution in Nigeria with regards to postgraduate programmes in biotechnology, as the University is successfully running internationally accredited postgraduate degree programmes in biotechnology. For example, Prof. Bala said that a total of 40 Masters and Ph.D degrees in biotechnology have successfully been awarded since 2017.

He also explained that the biotechnology programmes are offered by the institution’s Department of Biochemistry and supported by the Africa Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB). It is a World Bank – funded project initiated to contribute towards the elimination of Africa-endemic tropical diseases through research and manpower development, he further said.

The Vice-Chancellor added that the institution’s faculties and postgraduate researchers are leading the way in expanding the frontiers of research in different areas focused on the development of novel drugs and vaccines, diagnostics, improving food production and nutrition as well as application of biotechnology to industrial processes, bioremediation, and waste management.

“Our University aims to advance the field of biotechnology and make significant contributions to the improvement of life in Africa and beyond.

“ABU, Zaria is committed to developing a skilled workforce in biotechnology through our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in biochemistry, biotechnology, microbiology, and related fields. Our aim is to equip students with the necessary skills to advance biotechnology in Nigeria and Africa,” he said.

The three-day conference, entitled “Exploring Biotechnology as a Solution to Economic and Security Challenges in Post-Covid Era”, brings together experts from across various fields to participate in sessions that cover a wide range of topics related to omics technologies.

The conference will also give the participants opportunity to exchange ideas, discover novel opportunities, reacquaint with colleagues, meet new friends, and broaden their knowledge.

A keynote lecture, “Biotechnology Future Trends: A Trolley of Hopes and Fears,” was delivered by Prof. Aliyu Shugaba, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri, Borno State.


Public Affairs Directorate,

Office of the Vice-Chancellor,

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Tuesday, 14th March, 2023

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