African Biotechnology Stewardship Initiative for High Quality Crops

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Regency B (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Walter Alhassan , Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa , Accra, Ghana
Tools used in modern biotechnology in Africa are tissue culture (most widely used), DNA characterisation (widely used molecular tool), Marker Assisted Selection, Diagnostic tools and Genetic Modification (GM) least used. Genetic Modification is the most powerful tool and leads to the development of products in agriculture not otherwise possible with conventional approaches. They enhance the potential of conventional techniques to address food security and the reduction of loss of biodiversity. Despite this and the track record of safety, the adoption of GM approaches has met resistance in many areas of Africa.

The need for capacity building in biotechnology, biosafety and product stewardship has never been so urgent. Stewardship is, relatively, a new initiative.

Stewardship in plant biotechnology is the responsible management of a product from its inception through to its use and discontinuation.  It applies across the life cycle of a plant product and includes careful attention to the responsible introduction and use of products.

 The project on Strengthening capacity for safe biotechnology management in sub-Sahara Africa (SABIMA) which had stewardship training in crop production as the core, was introduced over the 2009-2012 period by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) with financial and technical support from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) in six countries, namely, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda.