Football for Good- An Agri-Biotech Awareness Strategy
Over the years, it has been observed that youths pay more attention to recreational activities and entertainment such as football and other sports activities. Sadly, Agriculture in Nigeria have not made the list of interesting recreational activities due to the current hardship and challenges faced by aged farmers in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Government is doing a lot to encourage more youth engagement in Agriculture through promoting it on social media and creating access to funds for those interested. The Young Professional on Agricultural Research and Development (YPARD) and IITA Youths Agripreneurs have carried out many programs that make agriculture cool to youths. However, a majority of the public especially these youths have not fully explored or understood the potentials of improved technologies especially genetic modification technology in agriculture.
As one of her creative awareness strategy, OFAB brought students together through supporting a football match in the university and using the beautiful game to educate them on the potentials of biotechnology. A large crowd of over 200 youths gathered to participate and cheer their team at the Football competition between students of Faculty of Education and Plant Science and Biotechnology, Nassarawa State University Keffi. Prior to this Event, Banners, posters, handbills & sensitization materials were distribute within the university and around Keffi L.G.A
During the half time of this event, the OFAB team addressed the students on ways to make farming cool which one of them is through adopting improved technologies. The OFAB Country Coordinator represented by Mr. Alex Abutu in his remarks explained that biotechnology seeks to solve challenges faced by farmers, such as insect and pest manifestation, drought, flood and other climate change issues. Furthermore, he explained the processes used by scientists to produce genetically modified crops and listed the various GM research going on in Nigeria. He, therefore, called on the students who are studying Plant Science and Biotechnology to serve as advocates and champions of the technology as its adoption will open up job opportunities for them when they graduate.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Yakubu Boyi Ngwa who was present at the event thanked the OFAB Nigeria Coordinator, Dr. Rose Gidado for her efforts in reaching out to the students. Dr. Rose awarded the winning faculty with Medals and Jersey urging them to keep talking science wherever they go as it shapes our world and has the potentials to bring about food security in Nigeria.
Similarly, Dr.O. Onovo (Head of department Plant Science and Biotechnology) who supported OFAB Nigeria on the awareness and sensitization of GMO’s advised his students to embrace the forthcoming Public Lecture on GMO’s saying it is to their educational benefits. Speaking on his support on GMO’s he included two examination questions on GMO’s to the outgoing 400 level students of Plant Science department.
In general, this event was impactful. Students were empowered with more information on biotechnology research and biosafety activities in Nigeria. Most of them asked questions on how they can be part of OFAB and contribute towards advocating for access to improved technology for farmers in Nigeria. Below is a short skit by the OFAB Youth ambassador, rap artist and public figure (B.O.C) on the benefits of GMO’s.