Biotechnology salary in South Africa
Nigeria is lagging behind in the agricultural biotechnology revolution as other African nations leap forward in its adoption, resulting in unprecedented transformation of their respective economies.
Biotechnology is any technological application using biological systems, living organisms, or their derivatives to make or modify products for specific human benefits.
South Africa, the world’s eighth largest grower of biotech crops, became the first African country to adopt genetically modified (GM) crops with commercial approvals in 1997.
According to data from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the total biotech crop area for South Africa in 2013 was 2.9 million hectares. The economic gain from biotech crops in the country between 1998 and 2012 was $1.15 billion, and $218.5 million for 2012.
However, without commercial GM crop practices, ISAAA does not regard Nigeria as a biotech country. The country had a GM pro-Vitamin A cassava released in December 2011 by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan. Other GM crops such as rice, sweet potato, sorghum and yam are only at experimental or field trial stage.
Nigeria, through the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), in July 2013 joined Ghana and Uganda to participate in a research to introduce GM rice in Africa.
While Ghana and Uganda have already commenced phase one of the project, Mark Ukwungwu, NCRI acting Executive Director, said Nigeria would rather build on the results from their trials.
Reuters reported that Burkina Faso made over $1 billion from cotton sales in 2013 and $1.2 billion in 2014. This is 20 per cent higher than the amount President Gooodluck Jonathan is seeking legislative approval to borrow and finance the fight against Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria’s north east.
According to Lucy Ogbadu, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), biotechnology is a field from which communities stand to benefit maximally when judiciously developed and carefully deployed.
Statistics from ISAAA show that biotech crop hectarage marked an unprecedented 100-fold global increase to 175.2 million hectares in 2013 from 1.7 million hectares in 1996. The figures for 2014 are yet to be published.
About 7.2 million smallholder farmers in China and another 7.2 million in India collectively planted a record 15.0 million hectares of biotech crops during this period.
Biotech cotton increased the income of farmers significantly by US$250 per hectare and also halved the number of insecticide sprays, thus reducing farmer exposure to pesticides.
One of the feats of GM technology is the “golden rice, ” a strain of rice that has been genetically engineered to produce beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. This rice species is invaluable in regions with endemic Vitamin A deficiency (VAD).