Crop Biotech Update

African Seed Companies Encouraged to Invest in Biotechnology

March 14, 2018

Seed companies in Africa have been challenged to explore ways of developing their own biotech products to meet the rising needs of food in the continent amid devastating effects of climate change and emerging pests. Addressing more than 450 delegates from 50 countries at the African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) Annual Congress held on February 26-March 1, 2018 in Cairo, Egypt, the Executive Manager of Biosafety South Africa, Dr. Hennie Groenewald, expressed his concern that Africa has not taken advantage of the benefits accrued from use of biotechnology.

On his part, the Deputy Chairman of the Agricultural Research Institute of Egypt, Mohammed Soliman Mohamed, urged the seed companies to ensure breeders continually select correct genotype as a means of unlocking food insecurity in Africa. "This should be followed by excellent crop management practices. For me, that is the work that seed companies must do for the continent's agriculture," Mohamed remarked.

Outgoing AFSTA President Denias Zaranyika said that his association will continuously work to give farmers high performing seeds as it focuses on breeding techniques that significantly improve harvests and address farmers' needs. This will ultimately contribute to the transformation of Africa smallholders from subsistence farming to commercial and smart farm enterprises.

Delegates also discussed how best to manage the devastating fall armyworm that has wreaked havoc in most farms in the continent. AFSTA Secretary General Justin Rakotoarisaona revealed the distressing effect of the pest, worsened by climate change impacts, which has enormously affected seed production in Africa. "AFSTA Congress remains an organized effort for exchange between the major players of private seed sector and to discuss current issues affecting seed production in Africa," Rakotoarisaona said. The Congress was attended by top seed traders and producers from around the world, including representatives of regional and international organizations, namely CropLife International, International Seed Federation, International Seed Testing Association, Asia and Pacific Seed Association, Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties, and  African Intellectual Property Organization.

For more about the congress, download the media release or contact Daniel Aghan at daghan@afsta.org.