African governments are being urged to increase investment in agricultural technology as the sure way to help the continent deal with food insecurity.
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector are concerned a large chunk of investments in science and technology research in agriculture on the continent is highly donor funded.
“Africa cannot run away from making investments in technologies, particularly, technologies that solve the basic needs. Particularly the problem of hunger,” Onyekachi Francis Nwanko who is Programme Officer at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) told Joy news at the Bio Africa Convention in Durban – South Africa.
The first Bio Africa Convention is an international event organised by AfricaBio, in partnership with the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa and Technology Innovation Agency in collaboration with the South African Department of Science and Technology.
“Despite all the declarations, most of the governments seem to be paying lip service to it and they are not really investing in these kinds of technology. And no society will develop without investing in technology,” Mr Nwanko noted.
He says indigenous private firms in Africa also have a crucial role to play in helping promote the technology.
“When I say increased investment, it doesn’t have to be from the public sector alone. The private sector in Africa will also have to get involved in biotechnology,” he explained.
“Government is not supposed to be in the business of running businesses, and so they need to work with people who know how to make a profit which is the private sector,” he told Joy News.
The AATF official is confident local investment in the biotechnology will help reduce the continent’s annual food import bill which is currently inching towards $50 billion and will also make the technology more acceptable on the continent.
Mr. Motlatsi Mothusi who is an independent farmer in South Africa criticized politicians on the continent for stalling processes to improve agriculture on the continent through technology.
“When you vote them into power, they walk straight 180 degrees into parliament. As soon as they are there, they roam around in circles like a compass, then finally, they spill out like wasted in a ballpoint pen. They will not deliver. Just political will,” Farmer Motlatsi who has a 30-hectare farm in the Gauteng Province said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations at the US State Department Peter Haas has explained the support international partners like his country make to the Africa agricultural sector and Agric biotechnology is meant to help build a more resilient food system on the continent.
“We underscore that we don’t seek to impugn upon the sovereignty of any African country. It’s up to the countries to decide on what they want to do, and part of that is making sure that you have good biosafety in place,” Mr Haas added.
South African Minister for Science and Technology Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who opened the conference on Monday says she expects the convention to “strengthen bio-economy policy positions, bio-entrepreneurial culture, and science competitiveness towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Source: Joy Online