African leaders have been urged to adopt the Genome Editing (GEd) technology to help reduce their imports of basic food products.
Dr. Francis Tanam Djankpa, a Senior Lecturer, Molecular and Cellular specialist at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana, who made the call believes that the technology has the capacity to increase food crop production on the continent.
For him, the technology could enable scientists to come out with crop varieties that would help farmers to produce more yields with less efforts.
He explained that the technology enables scientists to edit the gene in the crop to enhance its traits including its resistance to pest, adverse environmental conditions such as drought and pest infestation.
Dr. Jankpa who is also a Senior Lecturer at the School of Medical Sciences (UCC, SMS), was speaking to a team of science journalists at a workshop organised by the AUDA-NEPAD in Accra on Tuesday, January 30, 2024.
Dr. Djankpa explained that the GEd could be applied on major staple food crops such as maize, rice and yam, which the country mostly imported.
For him, the adoption of the GEd would help to solve some of the major challenges that confront farmers, including low crop yield and excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers.“GEd has the capacity to increase food crop production.
Farmers will not have to worry about whether there are erratic rains or not,” he said. He noted that the application of GEd has the ability to leapfrog agricultural productivity to ensure food security and food safety in Africa.
Dr. Djankpa pointed out that the technology could also help to stabilize the currencies of the continent as it would wean off the continent from its overreliance on imported food.
For his part, the Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Information, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr. Seth Manteaw, called for more investment in the technology to enable the country to reap benefits from it.
He was of the view that the country had the capacity, in terms of human resources and facilities, to promote the technology but needed more funding.
He said currently some universities in the country had started teaching their students some aspects of GEd.Dr. Manteaw further explained that considering the various structures that the country had, Ghana was ready to adopt the technology.
Also sharing his views, a Senior Research Scientist at CSIR, Dr. Samuel Mahama, noted that the adoption of GE would help Ghana to become food sufficient, particularly with its major staple food crops such as maize and rice.
The reason is that, according to him, the GEd technology takes very little time for scientists to come out with crop varieties that would enable farmers to produce more.
Additionally, he noted, GEd crops would also help to protect the environment as farmers would not have to apply a lot of chemicals on their crops to control pest and diseases.
Dr. Mahama further noted that the enhanced varieties would enable farmers to increase farmers’ yield than using the conventional crop varieties.