Women in Science Workshop encourages Biotechnology adoption for Africa

On November 2, 2017, the United States embassy in Ghana organized a Biotechnology workshop for women in Science at the Centre for African Wetlands, University of Ghana. More than 80 scientists, researchers, government representatives and farmers attended this Event. The Forum brought together African women involved in agricultural research and policy making to discuss innovations in agriculture and biotechnology in Ghana and in Sub- Saharan Africa.

In attendance was the Deputy Chief of Mission Melinda Tabler-Stone, who was joined by the OFAB Nigeria Coordinator and Assistant Director of the National Biotechnology Development Agency in Nigeria, Dr. Rose Gidado and Dr. Marian Quain, associate professor at CSIR College of Science & Technology. In her remarks, DCM Tabler-Stone highlighted U.S. support for women in science and agriculture. She said Women scientists have a critical role to play in Africa’s development, and yet they are woefully under-represented in positions of leadership. UNESCO estimates that just 30 percent of professionals in the sciences in Sub- Saharan Africa are women.

The Deputy Chief outlined the important role women play in agriculture, as well as the immense contribution biotechnology, has to make in promoting food security in Africa, saying “In our 21st century economy, we must actively welcome the immense talents and contributions of women and girls to advance peace and prosperity. Ultimately, we need science and evidence-based information to inform and shape conversations about biotechnology, and to ensure that farmers everywhere – including women – have the opportunity to benefit from innovation to transform their communities’’

Dr. Rose Gidado in her presentation described the Status of Biotechnology research in Sub- Saharan Africa. As the fastest adopted technology globally, she said few African countries like Sudan, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa have commercialized GM crops. She added that reports from these countries show that biotechnology has great potentials insecurity in Africa.

“Uganda just passed their Biosafety Bill into law and looks forward to commercializing GM crops within the next five years; Kenya has approval for field trials of WEMA maize. Tanzania has begun its confined field trials for drought tolerant maize just as the strict liability clause was removed from their biosafety law last year while Nigeria looks forward to commercializing Bt. Cowpea and Cotton by 2018. 

Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator, OFAB Nigeria Chapter

Other Countries working towards adopting Biotechnology products in Africa include Malawi, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ghana”, she highlighted. Dr. Gidado also emphasized on the need for African Government to invest in research on Genetically Modified crops as it potentially holds the key to better quality of food for consumers, improved nutrition for women and children, improved yield and income for farmers, which will overall end worlds hunger

Similar Presentation by Dr. Marian Quain, Associate Professor at CSIR College of Science & Technology, Ghana explained the various biotechnology research and Outreach programmes in Ghana. She recommended that Ghana needs substantial investment in cutting-edge technologies and human resource development with an ultimate aim of alleviating poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the sub-Saharan region