Rwanda: Report highlights need for GMO technologies in increasing Africa's food security

Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - One way to sustain crop productivity in Africa is through the increased use of bio-technology, including genetically modified organism (GMO) which can lead to an improvement in farmers' livelihoods on the continent, according to a new joint report released Wednesday by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The report, entitled: "GM agricultural technologies for Africa: A state of affairs", stated: the broad spectrum of opportunities opened by biotechnology, including GMO bio-technologies, can lead to an improvement in farmers' livelihoods in the region.

A statement on the report, made available to PANA here Wednesday, said GM and other bio-technologies can help address low productivity and profitability issues for smallholding farmers across the continent, as well as food security issues that have proven to be intractable by other means.

It also noted that one way to sustain crop productivity is through the increased use of fertilizer, but average fertilizer consumption has remained essentially static over the past 30 years across the Sub-Saharan African region.

As a consequence, the primary means of meeting increased demand and compensating for the loss of land with depleted nutrients has been to open up new land and expand the agricultural frontier, the report said.

In the meanwhile, agricultural experts argue that for accessing bio-technologies, GM in particular, will be dependent on the environment in which the technologies will be deployed.

This is because the level of misinformation about biotechnology in African countries is extraordinarily high, even when compared, anecdotally, to that in other developing areas.

Official statistics by the African Development Bank (AfDB) show that nearly one-third of African countries face chronic malnutrition. Africa continues to import 25 percent of its food despite the fact that 70 percent of its population is engaged in agriculture

It said that agriculture contributes about 35 percent to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP), accounts for 70 percent of the labour force, and this sector is also considered a key catalyst in the overall economic development of the continent.

But the new report argues that still on the African continent, a communications approach based on an arbitrary division between consumers and farmers is not useful because the percentage of the population engaged in farming far exceeds that of more advanced countries.

"Most of the [African] continent [still] lack bio technology research and development (R&D) activity in either the volume or the intensity of effort and resources needed to address current agriculture productivity constraints in a meaningful way," the report said.
-0- PANA TWA/VAO 8Oct2014

08 october 2014 13:15:51

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