The challenges confronting the Nigerian Gene Bank will feature at the D-8 group meeting scheduled for July 3 and July 4 in Turkey, according to the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC).
Olusegun Olatokun, the Coordinating Director of the council, disclosed this in Abuja on Friday.
The D-8 countries are Iran, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand and Nigeria.
Mr. Olatokun noted that Nigeria has not been active in the D-8 due to the challenges confronting the National Gene Bank located at the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NAGRAB), Ibadan.
“Our national Gene bank has been facing electricity, manpower, maintenance, and location challenges.
“The Nigerian Gene bank is not functioning the way it should function. The manpower of the Gene Bank deserves attention and that is why we are calling on the D8 group to come and intervene.”
Mr. Olatokun described the gene bank as an electronic archive where countries can interact with one another for research purposes, among other issues.
“The Gene bank is an archive where local varieties of crops are kept,” he explained.
He said the idea of the gene bank is to ensure that the germplasm currently being planted can be traced to their origin.
“The essence is that we will have enough seeds gene preserved and stocked to provide high quality seeds whenever there is need for it and to increase food production among the D-8 countries.
“When we have preservation of such genes, you can refer to them at any time, research on them and come up with a better version of it.”
Mr. Olatokun explained that the eight countries came together because of the similarity in their ecology and agricultural outlook.
According to him, the D-8 group was founded at the sixth summit of the Heads of State and Governments of the countries in Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia, in July 2008.
“It was after the meeting that was held among these eight countries that they singled out two areas in agriculture which are to be critically assessed.
“The areas are gene banks establishment and fertiliser usage by farmers. If those two areas can be well handled, there is a high tendency that the target of food security in these eight countries can be met.”
The director further said that the global gene bank of the D-8 countries located in Izmir, Turkey, would be used to develop the regional and national gene banks, through collaboration in the area of technology.