Research is underway to develop biotech versions of traditional African crops even as major crops such as corn are being adopted on the continent, according to the executive director of AfricaBio, a stakeholders association.
Nutrient enhancement and desirable traits such as drought resistance are being developed, along with resistance to insect pests and weed killers, Dr. Nompumelelo Obokoh told a session at the BIO International Convention here Monday.
“Improvement projects are underway in at least seven countries,” Dr. Obokoh said. Crops under development include cassava, sweet potato, bananas, cowpeas, rice and sorghum, she said.
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Major companies in agricultural technology have joined forces with the leaders of the principal industrialized countries to focus on sub-Saharan Africa in a bid to improve agricultural productivity, fight poverty, and feed a growing population in a sustainable way.
“We commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities,” the Group of Eight major industrial nations said after their conference at Camp David. The private sector pledged $3 billion to the effort, the U.S. State Department said. READ MORE »
As the latest indication of increasing global support for science-based agricultural solutions, a landmark declaration by governments from 24 African countries officially endorsed the use of biotechnology to help Africa address food security and poverty.
This year, policymakers and scientists from several African countries, including Ghana and Kenya, have made strides in agricultural biotechnology through local research and hunger-fighting initiatives. However, the significant endorsement made through a joint statement signed by all delegates at the 2nd Annual Dialogue of Ministers of Agriculture, Science and Technology was one of the strongest demonstrations to date of broad support across Africa.
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Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard—and “one of the most innovative thinkers on how to harness new technologies for economic development”—believes genetically modified (GM) crops are a necessary agricultural solution to help address the challenges of climate change and population growth, a Council on Foreign Relations blog states.
“It doesn’t make sense to reduce the size of the toolbox when the challenges are expanding,” Dr. Juma said in an interview with Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He predicts in 2012 “there will be more GM crops grown in developing countries than in developed countries.” READ MORE »
Bill Gates encourages adoption of ag biotech to address world hunger
In his annual letter, Bill Gates discussed agricultural biotech solutions for alleviating global hunger and poverty.
Mr. Gates said, “We can help poor farmers sustainably increase their productivity so they can feed themselves and their families. But that will only happen if we prioritize agricultural innovation.” Read more
Biotech bananas in Kenya contribute to Africa’s growing agribusiness sector
According to an article featured in Bloomberg, Kenya continues to make strides in agricultural biotechnology through local research of genetically modified (GM) bananas grown at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.
The article reported, “The quest to build a better banana is…an iconic subplot in the worldwide push for corporate sustainability. Global agribusiness has its own ideas for how Africa can help feed an anticipated 2050 global population of 9 billion people.” Read more