African leaders have been called upon to avoid over regulation of products made through new Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs), which are used in the development of new plant varieties to cultivate desired traits,improve crop productivity and ensure food security.
Emmanuel Okogbenin, director, of program development and commercialization at the African Agricultural Technology Foundation, made the appeal at a webinar organized by the Nigerian Plant Breeders Association.
Speaking on “re-directing plant breeding for speed and focus in Africa for food nutrition and security,” Okogbenin urged constituted authorities to allow innovation in agriculture: “Regulators should avoid adoption of strict regulatory regimes that will hinder application of new innovations in plant breeding.”
As the human population continues to increase, fertile land and water are becoming scarce, so production increases must primarily come from growths in yield and productivity in order to improve output over a given period of time.
NPBTs are techniques that genetically modify crops to offer large potentials for sustainable agricultural development and food security while addressing any shortcomings of the Green Revolution.
While NPBTs are developing quickly and displaying a number of notable potential benefits , overregulation and public misperceptions in Africa may obstruct the efficient development and use of such techniques.
Okogbenin called for private sector investment to enhance agricultural development, noting that commercial agriculture is the future direction of food security in the Africa.
He challenged breeders to think beyond the field and laboratory and prepare an inspiring, broad-based overview of how their products will perform in the entire agricultural value chain and further economic development.
He said breeders are pivotal to technological innovation, which is, in turn, critical to enhancing agricultural productivity. He went on to emphasize that it is important to use the right tools for the right problems and that it is not about the sophistication of the tools but their results and efficiency.