Africa’s Biotech Integration 20 years Overdue, Says Prime Minister

By Daniel Otunge,

November 7, 2017

Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, has called for urgent integration of modern biotechnology into Africa’s agriculture to help improve food security and economic growth.

He said this while officially closing The High-Level Conference on Application of Science, Technology and Innovation in Harnessing African Agricultural Transformation held at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Uganda, from 27 to 29 September 2017.

“Africa has been very slow in integrating modern biotechnology into the continent’s agriculture to help improve food security and economic growth. This is long overdue because it is now 20 years since GMOs were first commercialized. African agriculture must continue to evolve and make use of science, technology and innovations.

“This will require high political will, strong partnership, regional efforts and supportive regulation,” Dr Rugunda said, adding that such advanced technologies were needed in securing smallholder farmers’ resilience to impacts of climate change.

He underscored the centrality of smallholder farmers in feeding Africa, saying that they are the continents main source of food, employment and income: “Therefore, agreeing on mechanisms that ensure sustainable production of these farms by using science and technology is very critical.”

Dr Rugunda called for promulgation of evidence-based biosafety policies to foster transformational change in Africa’s agriculture. “We shall not tolerate activism without sound science to delay legislation processes,” the Prime Minister warned.

He emphasized the important role played by strategic communication in technology acceptance and diffusion. Inadequacies in communication and knowledge on science, technology and innovation has made Africa to lag behind in agricultural transformation.

“For agricultural transformation to feed our people, promote economic growth, fight poverty, and enhance sustainable use of our natural resources and the environment, it calls for the generation and communication of timely, quality agricultural knowledge and information. Such a mission requires us to have a strong communication and knowledge management,” he observed.

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