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Food security: Don seeks stronger ties between govts, researchers

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A Professor of Plant Biology, in the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Ilorin, Professor Oba Toyin Mustapha, has advocated for stronger ties between the governments and researchers, stressing that this will guarantee food security in the country.

Mustapha, who said this, while delivering the 221 Inaugural Lecture of the Institution with the theme “Chromosome and its Dynamicity for Classification and Food Security”, said such alliance will assist Nigeria to achieve food security.

The University Don encouraged government to evolve a policy that will create a synergy between Universities and industries, which he said will go a long way to make them benefit from researches carried out in the Universities.

He lamented that students are shying away from biosystems for lack of understanding the concept.

Mustapha stressed that to boost crop performance, extension workers should encourage and educate farmers to use developed varieties produced as a result of researches in the Universities and other research institutes.

He also charged the federal government on the need to massively invest in the biosystematic laboratories equipment to make preparation of metaphase chromosomes easier for students.

The Professor of Plant Biology emphasised that the University should endeavour to establish a Molecule Biology Laboratory in the Department of Plant Biology to augment the service rendered by Central Research Laboratory ot the University of Ilorin.

According to him, “research institutes owned by the Federal Government should be well funded to enhance sustainable food security.”

Speaking on the theme, the lecturer disclosed that the classifying organisms based on similarities helps to provide order to the thousands of living organisms on earth. “The urge to classify plants has been with man since he first set his foot on this planet, borne of a need to know what he should eat, avoid, use as cures for ailments and utilize for his shelter”.

He noted that the need for some system of classification is absolute, for it is only by first naming organisms and then grouping them in recognizable categories that one can begin to sort out and understand the vast array which exists.

Mustapha revealed that considering the number of kinds of plants known, it is obvious that the problem of classifying them all is enormous. Almost 300,000 species of green plants are currently recognized, in addition to over 100,000 fungi, a few thousand bacteria and other microscopic organisms which some biologist would classify as plants.

He however stated, “Initially, this information was accumulated and stored in the human brain and passed on to generations verbally in dialects restricted to small communities.

“Slowly, man learnt to put his knowledge in writing for others to share and improve upon. We have now reached a stage whereby a vast amount of information can be conveniently stored and utilized for far reaching concussions aimed at developing ideal systems of classification, which depict the putative relationships between organisms”, he added.

He further noted that a major achievement in the study of chromosomes science is the understanding of its Dynamicity, replacing the concept of its uniformity and monotonous behaviour. 

“Allelic diversity and heterozygosity occur through mutation either naturally or artificially and permit the generation of novel phenotypic variation. It is therefore, pertinent to explore these changes to identify and name plants”, he said.

He however suggested that if Nigeria must grow her economy, the leaders must address the issue of sustainable food security by providing enabling environment for a top-notch research on chromosomes behaviour.

He suggested further that, “there is need to encourage and adopt molecular marker assisted breeding to accelerate yield as it offers tremendous potentials to enhance productivity. For proper and reliable identification of plants, advance molecular study using barcoding is proposed as the best way of resolving taxonomic difficulties or confusions.

“Scientific names of plants being the keys to their literature, biologists should endeavour to familiarize themselves with scientific names of plants for better understanding of biodiversity”, he added.

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