A director at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) observed that small-holder farmers’ incomes can increase if they adopt genetically-modified crops.
“In the coming years, growing populations, stagnating agricultural productivity and increasing climate change will make it more difficult for Africa to tackle poverty, hunger and nutrition,” Mark Rosegrant said. Rosegrant said in order to fight these challenges, many African countries, including Uganda, are increasingly assessing technologies like biotechnologies, which could help ease these problems in an environmentally-sustainable way.
“The future of agriculture in Uganda and the world lies in biotechnology. This is not about large-scale farmers, but also small-scale farmers,” Rosegrant said.
We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Rosegrant at the AAAS meeting in Chicago in February:
Speaking during the launch of the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Tanzania Chapter, Director General of Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology, Dr. Hassan Mshinda, said “a lack of proper information on the opportunities offered by biotechnology has resulted in a slow adoption of various agro-technologies that can help the country feed its citizens.”
This is one more step toward bringing the debate on agricultural biotechnology closer to those who are most affected by biotechnology. Tanzania, like many African countries, faces a decreasing level of agricultural productivity caused by frequent droughts, poor crop varieties and livestock breeds, diseases, and a low technological base.
mem from sommerville on Daily Kos did a great job of illustrating the importance of biotechnology in 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Gebisa Ejeta’s work in developing drought- and weed-resistant sorghum to enhance the food supply in sub-Saharan Africa.
Some people will argue whether or not this means it is technically a “genetically modified organism” or GMO, or Genetic Engineering (GE). However, scientists in this field believe that it is genetic modification. But for this discussion, it doesn’t matter. The point is that the techniques of biotechnology are clearly used to solve these problems.
The post also gives me another opportunity to highlight the remarks of Dr. Daniel Mataruka on the adoption of agricultural biotechnology in Africa.