Africa must use biotechnology to boost food production – FARA

The first Pan African Biotechnology Stewardship Conference ended in Accra on Thursday with a call on Africans to use biotechnology to maximize food production.

Professor Adewale  Adekunle, Director of Forum for Agriculture Research  in Africa (FARA) Unit, which  deals with partnership,  who closed the conference, said to meet the food security needs, African countries needed to rely on biotechnology and stewardship.

The conference was on the theme: “Africa Managing Safe and High-Quality Biotech Crops.”

Biotechnology is the use of biological materials to produce or modify products or processes in agricultural or industrial production.

He said the purpose of the conference to connect stakeholders such as scientists, funding and technology donors, government agencies, in addition to  building of capacity and raising support for sustainable funding had been successful.

Prof Adekunle was of the view that case studies  presented by African scientists who had benefitted  from training on Stewardship received from the FARA-led Biotechnology Strengthening  Project gave hope that African scientists were on course in using the tools of biotechnology for safe development of crops that were of high quality.

Prof. Walter Alhassan, Coordinator of the Strengthening Capacity for Safe Biotechnology Management Sub-Saharan Africa,  (SABIMA) said the conference reviewed the three year- SABIMA Project, which would end this year.

It had also allowed the six countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Malawi and Kenya) to tell the rest of the world their successes and challenges and how they had applied the principles of stewardship in Agricultural Biotechnology.

The participants said they were convinced that modern biotechnology tools held considerable promise to develop crop varieties and livestock breeds to withstand the stresses in Africa.

They also expressed their belief that using biotech tools could help scientists identify genes that carry resistance to plants diseases or that which had tolerance for drought, or resist insect pest.

Plant breeder can incorporate these genes into seeds of important food crops, thus providing poor farmers with healthier, more bountiful crops to reduce hunger and poverty in Africa.

They said the problem in Africa was not really about the increase in population but the demand for food and live stock, improving the soil, producing good seed, varieties of crops that mature quickly and good markets  for farmers ‘ products.

Source: GNA

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