KAMPALA – Uganda’s economy will make economic strides when Uganda embraces biotechnology, says Fred Omach, the minister of state for general duties in the ministry of FINANCE . He believes that the country’s GDP can add another 2% on the average annual 7% if biotechnology, including genetic engineering, is embraced.
There are several businesses already using biotechnology from the traditional ones like beer companies to the modern ones like Agro-Genetic Laboratories and BioCrops engaged in tissue culture to produce banana plantlets. Omach, who was opening the Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC) stakeholders’ conference at Serena HOTEL
IN Kampala, said that the Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill – currently under review in parliament – would have been passed in 2004 at latest, since the country ratified the Cartagena Protocol in 2001.
The bill is intended to regulate research, development and promotion of biotechnology in the country. UBBC is a coalition of scientists, policy makers, private sector leaders, and civil societies engaged in biotechnology.
Beatrice Anywar, Kigum woman MP (pictured below) and shadow minister for water and environment said the wind of technology was blowing and that the country needed to be prepared so as not to be left out. She said the technology would help reduce the intensity of spraying using pesticides.
Plant breeders using genetic engineering have bred crop varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases hence the need for less pesticides. She also called upon the president to champion the piece of legislation. “This is a government bill, let the government own it in words and actions.”
Meanwhile, Samuel Opio, the secretary general of Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, revealed huge opportunities to plant breeders in maize starch and eucalyptus trees. “We import a lot of maize starch to use in the pharmaceutical industry from the United States as their maize has more starch content than the one here,” he said. “There are opportunities to develop GM [genetically modified] varieties of such maize.”
Denis Kyetere, the executive director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation based in Nairobi and a former director general of the National Agriculture organization, said that tomorrow’s world population can’t be feed using yesterday’s technology. Uganda’s population is expected to reach 100 million by 2050, according to United Nations (UN).
Author: Christopher Bendana