LAGOS – Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Oyo State, has urged the ministry of education and the federal government to prioritise research on nanotechnology for national development.
Lateef Agbaje, a Professor of Microbiology and Head, Nanotechnology research group (NANO+) of LAUTECH at the 38th inaugural lecture of the institution pointed dearth of experts, deficiency of curricula in covering materials science and nanotechnology, lack of dedicated funding and national policy on Nanotechnology as some of the impediments against nanotechnology research and development (R&D) in Nigeria.
The expert viewed that tackling the impediments would enable Nigeria tap into the $714.6 billion bioeconomy contribution of biotechnology to the world’s economy.
Agbaje in his lecture, ‘The next big thing is very small: The paradox of diminutive microbes and nanoparticles’ related the relevance of biotechnology to national development, as he underscored the importance of exploitation of biological resources to render goods and services for mankind.
Prof. Lateef Agbaje, Head, Nanotechnology research group (NANO+) handling a copy of inaugural lecture to Ologunde Michael Olufisayo (Right), Vice chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, at the 38th inaugural lecture of the University.
The technology which he categorised into old and modern biotechnologies, he said can be aptly explored for the overall development of the nation, as they have applications in different sectors; ranging from agriculture, medicine, industry, environment, aquatic resources, food and product development.
He stated that although microorganisms consist of the good and the bad; the pathogenic microbes causing diseases in plants and animals are less than 1 per cent of the hypothetical one trillion types of microorganisms that exist on the earth.
According to him, the contributions of microorganisms in terms of product formation were estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars. “The estimate of fermented products by microbes was put at $63.371 billion in 2020, which is about twice the Nigeria’s budget for 2021.null
“Several of these beneficial microbes, particularly probiotics are responsible for the production of local fermented foods and drinks such as garri, lafun, ogi, nunu, iru, fufu, and palm wine among others,” he stated.
As an industrial microbiologist, Agbaje said he had used microbes; notably bacteria and fungi to produce novel products that included biofertilizer, fructooligosaccharides, citric acid, biogas, different industrially important enzymes such as laccase, xylanase, keratinase, and fructosyltransferase.
He used the enzymes to produce different metal nanoparticles such as silver, gold, titanium oxide, calcium and silver-gold alloy. His works also involved the fabrication and deployment of specialized vessels called bioreactors for growing microorganisms.
Agbaje equally disclosed that he has successfully used different microbes to valorize and add values to agrowastes such as cocoa pod, palm kernel cake, plantain peel, cassava peel, kola nut pod and poultry feather to improve their nutritional properties or production of valuable enzymes.
He further stressed the versatilities of microbial resources in the biotechnology agenda of any nation leading to the sub-discipline microbial biotechnology.
“For instance, while South Africa has 14 nano-based products, 9 nano-based companies, 20 patents in USPTO and 11 nanotechnology standards, Nigeria does not have any of these at the moment,” Agbaje added.