Researchers in Ireland and the Netherlands have discovered that a genetically engineered potato carrying a blight resistance gene could help farmers reduce fungicide sprays by up to 90 percent.
Research and development should not stop at the exploration of natural resources, but proceed on to commercialise research products for the good of society.
“A research finding should pave the way to positively change people’s livelihood and improve the nation’s economy in terms of product development and commercialisation,” said Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) director-general Datuk Dr Mohamad Roff Mohd Noor.
Professor Marian D. Quain, the Principal Research Scientist, at the Crop Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has called on government to invest resources in biotechnology related research in the country.
Prof Quain explained that biotechnology, especially on Genetically Modified Organisms, were a branch of biotechnological systems that had been adopted by many countries to help develop plants and crops that were highly resistant to diseases and pests, and ensuring higher yields.
She made the call on Tuesday at a stakeholder seminar in Accra on the topic: “Can GMOs contribute to the Socio-economic Development of Ghana”, organised by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA).
Prof Quain urged the NBA to educate the public on biotechnology and biosafety issues to help the public understand and embrace biotechnology as a better alternative to socio-economic advancement.
This, she explained, was necessary to help correct the wrong perception created in the minds of the public regarding the use of technology, especially with GMOs. She said that countries like China had embraced biotechnology and conducted extensive research in various biotechnology systems which resulted in their fast advancement globally, stressing that there was the need for the country to learn from other countries.
She explained that genetically modified foods and products were being consumed everyday all over the world, and therefore, Ghanaians had to embrace GMOs as a new way of technological advancement that had come to stay to help the world cope with weather changes.
Prof Quain said the Crop Research Institute of the CSIR would continue to research and develop new plant and crops varieties like yams, maize, cassava and potatoes that were more resistant to the changing weather patterns, and gave the assurance that these were very safe for consumption.
Dr Richard Ampadu- Ameyaw, a Socio-Economist at Science and Technology Policy Research Institute, said the country needed biotechnology to cut down cost, but refuted the notion that biotechnology had come to replace traditional or conventional research. Dr Ameyaw said biotechnology should be added to the Senior High School curricular, explaining that, it would be easy for students to know more about GMOs.
Mr Edwin Baffour, Director of Communication, Food Sovereignty Ghana, was of the view that it was time the country focused on organic in its production and that GMOs were not going to solve the nutritional problems; saying it was rather expensive to practise.
He said the country had the requisite natural human resources which would help farmers produce their crops organically rather than using biotechnology in their production, stressing that, currently the demand for organic agriculture is increasing globally.
Mr Baffour said there was the need to solve the fundamental problems in agriculture such as access to credit for farmers, problems of irrigation, and poor road network before focusing on biotechnology.
Mr Edward Kareweh, General Secretary of the General Agricultural Workers Union, said the implementation of GMOs was not necessary since it would not solve infrastructural challenges especially access to quality road network from the farm to the market. He said GMOs would undermine the capacity of domestic farmers to produce their own seed, since the country would be constrained from accessing some of the global market.
-Originally posted in Business Ghana. See original article link here.
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The Duterte administration vowed to increase its investments in research and development (R&D) activities to boost the farm sector’s productivity, according to the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
“Investments will be increased to cover the direct cost of R&D, build a critical mass of human resources and improve infrastructure in support of the Harmonized National R&D Agenda for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources 2017-2022,” Chapter 8 of PDP, titled Expanding Economic Opportunities in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, read.
“This agenda espouses the use of advanced and emerging technologies, such as biotechnology, genomics, bioinformatics, nanotechnology and ICT [information and communications technology] as tools to find science and technology solutions to AFF [agriculture, fisheries and forestry] problems and to develop new products with significant impact to the sector,” it added.
In Chapter 14 of the PDP, titled Vigorously Advancing Science, Technology, and Innovation, the government bared its plan to craft a Harmonized National R&D Agenda (HNRDA) that would serve as a road map to advancing R&D in the country.
“Funding support will be provided for the implementation of the HNRDA, which defines the country’s priorities and guides public investment in R&D. The agenda will consolidate and promote basic and applied research in agriculture, aquatic resources, natural resources, health and nutrition, drug discovery and development, industry, energy, defense and security and emerging technologies,” it read.
The government said it will prioritize the development of R&D in sectors that would benefit the most from advanced technologies and innovative practices, such as the agriculture sector.
“This is expected to translate to an increase in incomes and jobs, especially in the countryside. The government will also foster the development of networks and markets, and undertake effective marketing strategies through the extensive use of quad-media and the organization of fora, fairs and exhibits,” the chapter read.
The PDP noted that, despite the significance of R&D in developing technologies and identifying good farm and fishery management practices, the share of R&D programs remains low in the total budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.
“In 2015 the aggregate budget was at P3.8 billion or only 0.28 percent of the AFF GVA [in current prices], which is lower compared to the 1-percent level recommended for developing countries,” it read.
The government also noted that the farm sector’s R&D capacity is “quite weak” because most of the scientists and researchers in the sector work on a contractual basis due to the limited number of permanent work positions.
The PDP said the government would tap the expertise of private and public institutions and think tanks to strengthen the farm sector’s R&D capacity.
“The coordination and complementation between DA and LGUs [local government units] will be strengthened for a more efficient delivery of extension services and feedback on farm-related problems,” it read.
“State universities and colleges will also be tapped to hasten he diffusion of good farm and fishery practices, indigenous and local knowledge and appropriate technologies,” it added.
The national government is keen on growing farm production by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent annually starting this year until 2022, when the President steps down from office, according to the PDP.
The previous administration had targeted to increase annual agriculture and fisheries output by as much as 5 percent.
-Written by Jasper Y. Arcalas in BusinessMirror. See original article link here.
Jasper Emmanuel Y. Arcalas is a graduate of the UST Journalism School (Batch 2016). He currently covers agribusiness for the BusinessMirror. He joined the news outfit in August 2016.