South Africa is urging other African countries to learn from its latest strategy and adopt more holistic policies around biotechnology.
Ben Durham, chief director in charge of bio-innovation at South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology, said biotechnology adoption works better when it is clearly integrated into various aspects of a country’s development, including industry, health and other areas beyond agriculture.
South Africa is currently leading the continent in agricultural biotech, with more than 80 percent of its maize and soya genetically modified. A lot of Bt cotton is also grown there. Work on the introduction of biotech crops started in 1997 and the country has since substantial progress with its application. Estimates are that between 1998 and 2015, economic gain from GM crops to South Africa stood at $2.1 billion. South Africa is also one of the continent’s major food exporters.
More than 30 years on, a number of African countries have now begun to follow suit. Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Mozambique are undertaking trials of biotech crops following the establishment of regulatory frameworks on biotechnology. In Nigeria, a National Biotechnology Development Authority has been established and in Ghana, the National Biosafety Authority has been given a dual mandate to both regulate and promote agric biotech. Read more