The Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Canisius Kanangire, has said that Africa would be susceptible to multiple crises if the continent did not achieve food security. Dr. Kanangire stated this at the 2022 Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Media Award. “Without food security, our continent becomes porous and susceptible to many other crises. For instance, agricultural production challenges such as changing climate, escalating conflict and unproductive farming have compounded the food crisis problem in Africa”, he said. He added, however, that communication was vital in reaching out to the masses to enlighten them on various technologies they can tap into to promote food security, adding that food insecurity was the number one threat to the economic growth of the economy.
“As I stand here, an estimated 346 million people in Africa are affected by food crisis, according to recent reports by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the African Union (AU). At 23.4 percent, the prevalence of severe food insecurity in Africa is double the world average of 11.7 percent. “According to the ‘2022 Global Report on Food Crises 2022 Mid-Year Update’, at least, one in five Africans goes to bed hungry and an estimated 140 million people in Africa face acute food insecurity”, Kanangire said. The AATF boss noted that the media role was essential in highlighting these challenges and communicating solutions that our scientists are developing. “Agricultural biotechnology is one of the technologies that needs concerted efforts for promotion because it suffers from unwarranted criticism. OFAB, through the media, helps in dispelling misinformation and propaganda on biotechnology by providing science-based evidence.
“OFAB further engages farmers, policy makers and scientists in discussion to integrate biotechnology in the development framework of the African countries. Central to the misinformation on GMO is the question of safety and environmental sustainability. Science is replete with information that GMOs are safe for consumption and use. OFAB engages with the media and policy makers to ensure that this information supports development and deployment of these technologies in the African continent. “There is global scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops and their benefits to people by reducing hunger and poverty among smallholder farmers in developing countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa, and lessening the environmental impact of agriculture by cutting pesticide use. However, those opposed to the adoption of GM crops continue to peddle lies about the technology and hence, we have seen low adoption of modern technologies”, he added. He disclosed further that the OFAB Media Award (OMAs) celebrate the critical roles played by journalists in promoting constructive dialogue on modern biotechnology through responsible, professional, ethical, and effective reporting.
On his part, the Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha said the Nigerian government is bold about its commitment to deploy science and technology as one of the anchors of the nation’s quest to accelerate its development. He said Nigerian farmers are celebrating the release of Bt. Cotton and PBR Cowpea, both being products of modern biotechnology practice in the country to address challenges of insect and pest infestations leading to low yields, droughts, soil infertility and climate change effects faced by farmers. He said the farmers are now experiencing 20-25 % yield increase, reduction of chemical sprays from 8-10 times down to 2-3 times. Prof. Mustapha said the OFAB Media Award presents an opportunity to appreciate journalists across Africa for their contributions to deepening the understanding of biotechnology usage in agriculture among the people.
Source: Nigerian Tribune