By Daniel Otunge
November 6, 2017
“Passing of the Biosafety Bill into law by parliament will help Uganda to develop the economy and improve its food security situation,” Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, Ugandan Minister of Science Technology and Innovation, said.
Speaking during the official closing ceremony of the 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, the minister stated categorically that his ministry is ready to do everything possible to ensure utility of science, technology and innovation (STI) to help develop Uganda’s economy and improve food production for both consumption and exports.
Dr Tumwesigye noted that the conference whose theme was ‘Integrating the path in Africa’s Agricultural Transformation,’ could not have come at a better time when the Ugandan government is working towards passing the Biosafety Bill to implement the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2008.
The minister decried the slow pace of adoption of modern agricultural biotechnology in Sub-Saharan Africa where only South Africa and Sudan are currently growing transgenic crops.
Reflecting on the value of the conference, Dr Tumwesigye stated: “This conference has been very informative. It has covered all aspects of technology and innovation diffusion process.
It also covered agriculture status in Africa, technologies that have been used to get us there, key public private partnerships, modern biotechnology, biotechnology policy and regulations, regional biosafety cooperation and harmonization, communications and intellectual property rights.”
The conference was attended by over 300 delegates from Africa, Europe, Asia and America and included current and former ministers, deputy ministers, diplomatic missions, members of parliament, heads of research organizations, agricultural experts, leaders of farmer group organizations, science journalists, among others.
It is instructive to note that the Uganda Biosafety Bill was later passed into law on October 3, 2017, thanks to the efforts and the dedication of the President of Uganda, The Prime Minister, the Minister and the chair of Parliamentary Committee on STI, Hon. Eng Robert Kafeero.