The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), a project of Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF)on Thursday honoured African scientists who have contributed to the accelerated development of biotechnology to increase agricultural productivity in the continent.
These African Scientists who were selected from Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda , Nigeria and Ghana recognition coincided with OFAB day celebration.
The day celebrates strides in Agricultural Biotechnology by various countries and was held on the theme ‘Celebrating strides in bridging the knowledge gap in agricultural biotechnology towards agricultural transformation in Africa’.
At the event, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, (MESTI) Dr Afriyie Akoto in a speech read on his behalf said the day’s theme resonated with Ghana’s goal in accelerating efforts toward food sufficiency.
He said in the face of a rapidly growing population, declining agricultural productivity, climate change and reduced resources available for agricultural research, policymakers were pressed to make the right decisions.
“And that is where OFAB project steps in to facilitate constructive conversations among key stakeholders and decision-makers on agricultural biotechnology,” he stated.
Dr Afriyie urged the media to dymestify myths and misinformation which if not handled well could rollback advantages inherent in the technology.
He called on stakeholders contributing to the biotechnology space to share knowledge and experiences in creating awareness on agricultural biotechnology.
AATF’s Director, Product Development and Commercialization, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, said the cross-section of actors were celebrated for their contribution to the advancement of agriculture biotechnology during their normal lives and activities.
“The nominated policymakers, scientists and farmers have championed biotechnology not for personal gain, but because of belief in its potential to uplift the people’s livelihoods. Through their example, we learn that each one of us, in our areas of expertise and influence can promote the role of science in Africa’s development”
“Biotechnology as relatively new science has been met with resistance due to lack of understanding and misinformation about the technology in the public. The biggest challenge, which unfolds now for other African nations, is the knowledge gap between scientists and the public who are the end users of the biotech products,” he said.
Prof Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboana, Acting Director-General of the Water Research Institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research , Ghana, said since OFAB’s establishment on August 18 2011, it had consistently facilitated dialogues and conversations to promote the role of Science Technology and Innovations, particularly agricultural biotechnology toward a prosperous and food-secure Africa.
He urged the nominees to continue supporting agricultural biotechnology development and OFAB chapters in their countries.
Prof. Marian Dorcas Quain, Chief Research Scientist Council for Scientific and Industrial, Crop Research Institute( CSIR-CRI) an awardee thanked AATF for the significant recognition, adding that it would motivate her the more to innovate and better the lives of farmers.
BY BENEDICTA GYIMAAH FOLLEY