By G9ija

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says it will provide electricity to rural communities through its locally produced bio-digester.

Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director-General of NABDA, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, that the agency would do this in partnership with the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).

“We are about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with the Rural Electrification Agency, where we are going to use our bio-digester in bringing electricity and gas to rural communities,’’ Mustapha said.

He explained that the technology processes and converts bio-degradable waste products like cow dung into cooking gas and electricity.

According to Mustapha, the Environmental Bio-tech Department of NABDA developed the technology.

“This is an indigenous technology, our technology; this is what we provide, what we are offering.

“NABDA is coming up with ideas that will solve most of the challenges we are facing as a nation,’’ he said, adding that the technology would bring development to the society.

The NABDA boss reiterated that it was the primary responsibility of the agency to use biotechnology research and development to promote all aspects of development of the country.

Giving update on the recent launch of Biotech (Bt) cowpea in Kano, he said that large scale production would boost the economy.

“The Bt cowpea has a very important value chain for Nigerian economy and when farmers plant it, they reap bumper harvest which could also be exported,’’ he said.

Mustapha explained that the Bt cowpea variety was resistant to pod borer or maruca vitrata, the devastating insect pest of cowpea.

He added that maruca had hampered production of cowpea, one of the most important legumes in West Africa.

“By controlling this damaging pest, the country would become self-sufficient, helping to ameliorate rural hunger.’’

Mustapha also said that Bt cowpea would improve nutrition among poor Nigerians who could not afford animal protein.

He said the benefits of the variety included increase yield, reduction in intensive application of insecticides which also saves the nation significant amount of money spent on importation of pesticides.

He was optimistic that Bt cowpea cultivation would create employment opportunities, adding that this would boost output for farmers and save the country foreign currency spent on cowpea importation.