BLOG: Taking Biotech to Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

BLOG: Taking Biotech to Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

July 7, 2015
Food Security

Read this exclusive blog from Dr. Florence Muringi Wambugu, Founder and the CEO of Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International

Thursday July 2, 2015
Nairobi, Kenya

A report from the Population Reference Bureau predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will record the world’s largest population growth with an increase from 926 million people to nearly 2.2 billion people by 2050 – that’s an additional 1.3 billion people to feed. But the current production of food in Africa is not sufficient to meet today, nor tomorrow’s, demand. Not only do we need more food, we need that food to be more nutritious.

We are a non-profit NGO focused on harnessing advanced agricultural technologies and transferring them to help smallholder farmers solve food security problems. In particular we work in six African countries: Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ghana and use our knowledge and experience to ensure that Africa does not miss out on the ag biotechnology revolution.

One excellent example is the Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) project, a public-private partnership between Africa Harvest and DuPont Pioneer to use biotech innovations to bring large-scale health benefits to people in Africa. The ABS project is designed to develop transgenic sorghum that can alleviate vitamin A deficiency, as well as iron and zinc deficiencies, in children under three that rely on sorghum as their staple diet.The project demonstrates Africa Harvest’s role in technology development and deployment. To date the ABS project team has successful conducted five and seven seasons of field trials in Kenya and Nigeria, respectively.

More needs to be done, but the future success of biotech in Africa will not be a walk-over as we continue to face challenges in perceptions. To succeed African leaders need to think through “what is in it for us” and not rely too much on outsiders.  In particular, the vocal anti-GM lobby group has been very active in African countries with greatest potential for biotechnology. We need to invest in information, awareness creation, and education outreach to tell our side of the story. It’s time Africa began to listen to its own scientists and thinkers.  Africa Harvest is open to partners ready to “walk the last mile” with us and the communities we serve, to make sure technologies are accepted and the lives of people are changed.

For more information about Africa Harvest visit the website here.