East Africa using agric biotechnology to eradicate food insecurity - Some dozen African researchers and policy makers who gathered Monday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the first international conference on agricultural biotechnology research, have agreed to work together to harmonize their methods in the fight against food insecurity, particularly in the East African sub-region.
This mobilization of African researchers comes after a recent report, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noted that some parts of East Africa and the Horn of Africa were among the regions of the world most hit by food insecurity.
'Given the precariousness of this situation, any external shock - whether it's a drought, a flood or an invasion of migratory pests - can have irremediable consequences for many people,' FAO said in the report, entitled 'Eliminate Food Insecurity in the Horn of Africa'.
At the opening of the meeting, Jimmy Smith, Director of International Institute for Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), said that biotechnology could help Africa overcome climate change.
'What matters for now is that this initiative should now focus on poor farmers in poor countries, namely the region of East Africa and the Horn of Africa,' he added.
While previous research has shown some failures of biotechnologies across the different sectors of food and agriculture in developing countries, African researchers are convinced that these biotechnological innovations can now have an important role to play and enable the continent to double food production and face the uncertainties of climate change.
It was further noted that the East African region remains plagued by a recurrent food insecurity with as cause the use of outdated agricultural practices, lack of an effective mechanism to disseminate new technologies for small farmers, not to mention unpredictable weather conditions, due to the phenomenon of climate change.
'For the moment, East Africa researchers are not only considering how to help smallholder farmers to increase production in a sustainable manner, but also work toward the establishment of mechanisms for the effectiveness of the food industry and promote market access in a bid to enhance livelihoods in the sub-region, ' Mr. Smith said.
The new research programme on agricultural biotechnology covers all five member countries of the East African Community and Ethiopia.