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Africa records good progress in adoption of bio-tech crops- Official

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Africa records good progress in adoption of bio-tech crops- Official

By Sylvester Thompson Africa has made good progress in adopting biotech crops for 2021, said Dr Margaret Karembu, Director of AfriCentre, International Service for the Acquisition of Agricbiotech (ISAAA).

The Nigeria News Agency reports that ISAAA is an international non-profit organization that shares the benefits of new bioscience technologies with key stakeholders.

It shares this through particularly resource-poor farmers in developing countries, through knowledge sharing, support for capacity building initiatives and partnerships.

Karembu made this known in his opening remarks at a five-day virtual conference on the biennial African Bioscience Communication Symposium (ABBC).

The theme of the conference is: “Accelerating the Biotechnology Tipping Point in Africa; take stock and celebrate the gains ”.

The symposium kicked off Monday in six African countries including Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Karembu, who is also a co-organizer of ABBC 2021, said the advancements were what sparked and necessitated the conference in order to take stock and celebrate the gains in agricultural biotechnology.

She said the symposium would also consolidate the lessons needed to inspire and propel the continent to higher levels of agricultural development and achievement of food security.

“The ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, will provide the continent’s experts with an opportunity to reflect on the ideas and challenges faced moving forward.

“Innovation is needed to stimulate in-depth reflection on lessons learned as the continent moves towards the adoption of new technological tools such as gene editing,” she said.

The ISAAA director stressed that the symposium was an Africa-based platform that would also address pressing communication issues needed to address biotechnology as well as biosafety.

To corroborate Karembu’s progressive statements on Africa’s adoption of biotech crops, prominent African scientists and renowned biotechnologists gave presentations supported by statistics, infographics and proven facts.

The conference was held in Abuja, Nigeria, in collaboration with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, chief executive of NABDA, said the conference will examine how crops could be improved for the benefit of the nation.

“Nigeria recently launched Biotech (Bt) cowpea, an important food crop and Bt cotton that will reorganize our cotton industry,” he said.

He said around five other food crops would be further released, including cassava and soybeans, and these were essential for economic development.

He expressed optimism that these crops have good value chains, adding that their development is a huge solution for the economy and self-sufficiency in food crops.

“From the symposium, you can easily see that experts from different countries around the world are presenting their papers and all they are saying is that biotechnology is safe,” Mustapha said.

Also speaking, Dr Rose Gidado, National Coordinator of OFAB, said the conference was of great importance in acting as a unifying factor for Africa in agricultural development.

She said this has been demonstrated through the use of innovative technologies such as modern biotechnology practice, genome editing, among others, to help farmers access improved seedlings for productivity and food security.

Gidado denounced the laxity of African countries in adopting new technologies compared to developed countries which have acquired food security thanks to these same technologies.

She said the conference fostered the unity that would allow them to find solutions, with the ability to synthesize the best communication strategies and political dialogue for the continent.

She noted that although behind in the adoption of technologies, the six African countries, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Ethiopia and Uganda have started to commercialize genetically modified crops.

“Nigeria is in the lead because I remember that around June 29, Bt cowpea was released as an indigenous food crop, the first of its kind in the world.

“So Nigeria has taken the lead in Africa and this is how it should be and once Nigeria leads in everything other African countries will follow,” Gidado said.

Source: NAN

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