NATIONAL SUMMIT ON PLANT RESOURCES WILL UNLEASH NIGERIA’S FOREST POTENTIALS – PROF. IWU
Prof. Maurice Iwu By Emmanuel Elebeke A former chairman of the Steering Committee and a former Chairman of INEC, Prof. Maurice Iwu says the 1st Bi-Annual National Summit on Plant Genetic Resources for Sustainable national Growth and development is targeted at unleashing Nigeria’s forest potentials and economic growth.
Prof. Iwu, who is the chairman of the Steering Committee stated this at the 8th meeting of the Steering Committee on the proposed summit scheduled for October 8th-9th, October, 2018. The summit entitled: Harnessing Plant Genetic Resources for Sustainable Economic Development; Food Security, Health, Environment, Industrial Applications is the first of its kind designed to provide Nigeria with the template on how to explore its competitive advantage on plant resources.
According to him, with the renewed drive to explore the natural deposits in forest and plant resources would lead to safeguarding lives and some plant species already going into extinction would be preserved, adding that exploring Nigeria’s potentials in plant resources will not only boost economic growth but make the industry globally competitive.
‘‘Well, I feel good. It is a very good idea because the basis of this is based on the plants genetic resources. Some of them are being threatened, some are being lost, but all lives are based on these plants. A conference like this, will make everybody come to understand how we got out these plants, how to use them and how to preserve them. ‘‘We use them for food security, for drugs, for medicine and everything and also make sure that we don’t destroy all of them, leaving them for the generations to come and also propagate them for prolonged life and environmental preservation.’’
‘‘The truth is that every plant you see is a medicinal plant. Even the one we eat contains some drugs. Even waterleaves, pumpkin, whatever you eat is a medicinal plant. We are blessed with so much resource, both the ones we use and the ones we don’t use in the forest. We have enough. Though, it might take time for us to export enough to solve all our problems.’’ On whether Nigerian would embrace the idea, the former INEC boss said, plant resources are crucial to the economic diversification plan because of the critical nature of the industry.
‘‘Health industry cannot be sustainable without plant resources. Once you keep making the drugs, and making them from outside, from other people’s raw material, you are only having a short time benefit. At the end of the day, you will go back to those countries. Then the world is also changing. ‘‘People are using more and more natural resources for health than they were using before. So Nigerians will be forced and compelled by the shear need for of these plants for the economic importance. Economics of sustainability will drive people to welcome this. And we have no doubt whatsoever.
‘‘In industrial raw material, you must have to have your own sources to industrial raw materials for you to have a successful industry. Not each time you need a raw material, you import it. You cannot sustain yourself, and this is why you can see that we have been meeting since morning, the discussion has been robust. ‘‘We have been very focus. We have to look at the health of our plant and make sure that they are healthy. How do we make sure that the desert does not affect the lives of our plants? How do we record even what we have so that the generation yet unborn will be able to know what they have? What we are emphasizing here is the plant based resources.’’ Continuing, Prof. Iwu said:
‘‘we hope so much so that if properly harnessed as we have seen in developed climes, agriculture and forestry resources will add more value to Nigerian economy. The good thing is that Nigeria has Raw Material Developing Research and Development Council that is driving this initiative. ‘‘That is a very good thing but we have not developed the potential of this agency. The agency can really be able to compete favorably with oil revenue. And now there are plant resources that can be utilized for driving motto vehicles.
There are plant resources that can also be used to convert into diesel. A Billion dollar industry that you can be able to compete with, but what makes it different from oil, it is not a wasting resource, it is a renewable resource, it is sustainable and overtime, it will also make us richer.’’ Another member of the Committee and Professor of Plant Breeding & Crop Biotechnology, Ene-Obong Efiom Ene Obong, said Nigeria failed to tap into the economic and medicinal benefits of plant resources and abandoned agriculture because of oil discovery.
With the summit, he said the new thinking about plant resources would culminate into converting untouched plant and forest resources into sources of wealth creation. ‘‘In the past because of oil revenue, we seem to have forgotten about agriculture and plant resources. The plant resource goes beyond agriculture. We are talking about things that are used in medicine, things that are used in research and things that can also be used in other industrial line.
‘‘What we are saying is not a question of doing today go tomorrow; no it is going to be sustainable. That is why we are developing a program that will make sure that we combine and join all the drugs. Not all the time we will keep reinventing but have a sustainable program that will be nationalistic.’’ Related