Sub-Saharan countries urged to embrace biotechnology to ensure food security as their population poised to grow sharply. A three-day long regional conference on Agricultural Biotechnological in Sustainable Food System and Nutrition was launched here yesterday.
With millions of people mostly children facing food insecurity due to famine, drought and other climate related causes in the African continent, over 60 percent of malnourished people live in Eastern Africa, says Ministry of Agriculture Dr. Eyasu Abreha. Accordingly, he said biotechnology is one of the ways to improve agricultural production. There are instances that tissue culture, one of the most important biotechnologies, has improved food and nutrition security in many areas.
Despite little progress, biotechnology development in Africa has been hindered by problems related with development of knowledge base application, regulatory policy and structure for bio-safety and intellectual property right, linkage and cooperative mechanisms for biotechnology developmental, its transfer and sustainable application for Africa, noted Dr. Eyasu.
Currently, working to build the capacity of human resource, the Minister said Ethiopia has prepared national biotechnology policy and strategy with the parliament approving the revised biotechnology law. He also further noted this would enable the utilization of biotechnology convenient.
According to Dr. Eyasu the engagement of the private sector is progressing. The country has the largest commercial tissue laboratory with annual production capacity of 40 million tissues of different plants.
AU Rural Economy and Agriculture Commissioner Josefa leonel correia Sacko for her part stated that significant portion of the African population are vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity, hence investing in biotechnology and generating new technologies would help promote nutrition and food supply. Biotechnology is part of a solution of developing agricultural solutions.
Biotechnology has played essential role in improving nutrition, though there exists uneven distribution of technologies in the world. With some countries making progress and developing the required infrastructure, sub-Saharan countries need to embrace biotechnology as major priority in their quest to meet nutritional demand of its growing population, underscored, Ren Wang Assistant Director General Agriculture and Consumer Protection at FAO.
As to Ren biotechnology is an important tool in the value chains and innovation should be focused on expanding agricultural capacities of during production and processing.