By Debo Akinbami

Wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has said nanotechnology has the capacity to help the country in reducing food scarcity and ending of protein-energy malnutrition in children.

Mrs. Akeredolu said this while delivering a speech on the theme: ‘Application of Nanotechnology to Energy, Environment, Agriculture & Health’ at the 4th Annual NANO Conference, at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State.

“As an aquaculturist, I can also easily relate to the unending opportunities nanotechnology can bring to fish farming and fisheries management. This has a ripple effect on reducing food scarcity and ending protein-energy malnutrition especially among children.

“The national and global consumption of fish (especially catfish) continue to increase but with local fish farmers faced with a number of challenges ranging from reproduction and prevention and treatment of diseases” she said.

Nanotechnology, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative of the United States of America, is a science, engineering, and technology conducted at the nanoscale (1 to 100 nm), where unique phenomena enable novel applications in a wide range of fields, from chemistry, physics and biology, to medicine, engineering and electronics.

Organised by the Nano research group of the University of Nigeria Nsukka in collaboration with Oilserv Limited group of companies, the 4th African Nano conference (virtual and physical) is holding at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, (UNN) from 19th – 23rd July, 2021.

The wife of Governor called on the three tiers of government to recognize the place and importance of nanotechnology as an important ingrident for national development, saying: “Government at the Federal, State and Local levels must recognize the importance of nanotechnology in nation building and deliberately earmark funds and significant investments in nanotechnology research. The indigenous nanoexperts must be encouraged by all means and the government must demonstrate the political will that is much needed.”

Speaking on the import of nanotechnology on various genres of life, Mrs Akeredolu said: “The introduction of nanotechnology products to replace what is currently available promises significant gains towards saving our planet. For example, nanomaterials are known to exhibit unique durability properties against mechanical stress or weathering which can increase the useful life of a product. The direct result of such innovation is a reduction in waste generation and environmental degradation.

“In fact, nanotechnology has been used to improve solar panel efficiency as well as reduce the cost of installation and maintenance. These are clear indications of what benefits can accrue in terms of energy and environmental management through nanotechnology. We must keep this momentum and encourage collaborations with other institutions both in Nigeria and internationally.

Arabirin who congratulated UNN for taking the lead in nanotechnology in Nigeria and for keeping up this momentum up to the 4th edition of the conference, added that nanoscience is very relevant to her initiatives.

In her words: “Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Aquatek Farm Ventures, BEMORE Empowered Initiative are some of my private organizations which have relevant thematic areas in tandem with the purpose of this conference.

“You can understand why this conference is very important to me and my girls and I hope that the few of them who accompanied me here today will start pondering on how to incorporate nanotechnology to actualize the vision of the BEMORE Empowered Initiative. The same goes for my other organizations-BRECAN and Aquatek Farm Ventures-We hope to foster relevant collaborations in nanotechnology research to improve the quality of our work to achieve organizational goals.”

Dignitaries at the conference include: Prof C.A. Igwe, the Vice Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Arc (Dr) Edward Nkwegu, Chairman of the Occasion, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnia Onu, Engr (Dr) Emeka Okwuosa, MD Oilserv, Jonathon Brame, Team Lead for Basic & Applied Research (BAR), Prof R.U. Osuji, Prof P.E. Ugwuoke, CEO/MD E-Terra Technologies, and Prof Anthony A. Attama.

Others resource persons who delivered lectures on nanotechnology are: Prof Wole Soboyejo, Senior Vice President and Provost, WPI, USA, Prof Emmanuel Iwuoha, University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa, Prof Clara Santato, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Canada, Prof. Kenneth Ozoemena, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). South Africa, Lecture IV Prof M.Maaza, University of South Africa

Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Professor C.A Igwe, while playing host to Mrs. Akeredolu in his office, described the First Lady as a worthy ambassador of the University of Nigeria.