Professor Walter S. Alhassan, a member of Bioscience for Farming in Africa’s Scientific Advisory Group (B4FA-SAG) has said It is relevant for Africa to rely on bioscience and new technologies to boost her agriculture.
Bioscience, he explained is not about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but scientific and new agriculture technologies that are proven to be effective and efficient in food production and processing.
Prof. Alhassan in an exclusive interview with the Enquirer during the 6th Africa Science Week Conference held in Accra which sought to find lasting innovative ways to increase food production in Africa said, Africa weakness in food production is not about the lack of lands or human resources but the failure to combine conventional, scientific, research and development in agriculture.
He said Africa has not been able to move forward in agriculture because of inconsistent funding of agriculture research and development. Scientific or bioscience, Prof Alhassan explained to the Enquirer is methods of maximizing production with deployment of few inputs.
He said that, though the conventional crop breeding system is still viable but when it is combined with new found agriculture technologies, it could be more effective.
Africa, he observed though is endowed with vast lands and human resources it was still faced with low productivity as a result of poor yields.
The problem of poor yield he said is a combination of factors including poor seeds, infertile lands, crops diseases or the combination of all these factors.
Prof. Alhassan pointed out that for Africa to be able to feed itself well there was the need to deal with the factors mentioned above and that could easily be done with the adoption of bioscience technologies, he said.
In spite of it’s vast lands and relatively good weather, Africa still faced with the problem of food insecurity. This often trigger mass exodus of the youth from rural communities to urban centres to create not urban slums but also streetism, armed robbery, prostitution, conflict among other social vices.
Prof. Alhassa however stated that the problem of food insecurity could be properly tackled by the use of bioscience and new agriculture technologies such as crops modified scientifically to be drought, diseases and pests resistant crops, high yielding and nutritious crops to also deal with malnutrition in Africa. “Bioscience can change the story of Africa food production when effectively deployed”, he said.
The campaign for adoption of bioscience to boost food production has met with stiffer opposition from both scholar and religious groups because of the fears of health risks associated with the use of bioscience technologies in crops.
For example genetically modified crops they claimed pose cancer risks to human beings. However, all these claims about the negative effects of GMOs have not been scientifically proven.
Prof. Alhassan said the bioscience technologies is one of the effective option that could help Africa produce enough to feed itself in the next 10 years to come and that failure to pay attention to the development of agriculture could spell doom for the continent in future as its population increases rapidly. The UN estimated that the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and that there was the need to step up food production to meet the daily food needs of the increasing population.
Also published in The Enquirer 7 Aug. 2013 page 3.