Ms Sherry Ayittey, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, on Thursday said African still lags behind in the exploitation of its potential, partly due to the lack of enabling environment for the development and use of agricultural biotechnology.
“Discussion over agricultural biotechnology and its application are surrounded by misconceptions due to lack of or conflicting information,” she said at the 5th anniversary celebration and planning meeting of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB), in Accra.
The biotechnology forum is a platform that brings together stakeholders in the field of biotechnology, including scientists, journalists, the civil society, industrialists, lawmakers and policy makers to discuss issues concerning the area.
It also provides the opportunity for key stakeholders to network, share knowledge and experiences, and explore new avenues, to bring the benefits of biotechnology to African agricultural sector.
Ms Ayittey noted that public awareness was critical in creating a favourable environment for the acquisition and application of modern agricultural biotechnology.
She said this has a great potential to make a significant contribution to food security, poverty reduction and environmental conservation.
The Minister said no one technology has the internal momentum to create food security for any nation, but it would depend on how best the technology would be understood and utilized to its fullest.
Dr A. B. Salifu, Director General, Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, explained that effective developmental usage of new technologies required an enabling environment to improve understanding and contribute to the formulation of relevant policies and laws.
He said the forum would give stakeholders the opportunity to influence policy markers to mainstream science and technology into Africa’s development agenda.
Currently, OFAB has chapters in four African countries including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Tanzania.