Crop Biotech Update

Rwandan Women in Biosciences Embrace Science Communication

December 19, 2018

Rwanda women scientists have applauded effective science communication as key to ensuring smallholder farm families appreciate the role of advanced biosciences in addressing food insecurity, malnutrition, and environmental conservation. This came up during a series of stakeholder experience-sharing sessions on contributions of agricultural biotechnology in transforming African agriculture. Lessons learned over 22 years of adoption indicate benefits to farmers, consumers, and the environment with more than 10% of arable land under biotech crops. Dr Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, Higher Education Council and formerly Director General for Science, Technology and Research in the Ministry of Education in Rwanda said the country is at a vantage position to tap into regional experiences from neighboring countries instead of re-inventing the wheel. Acknowledging the primary role of women in raising awareness about scientific innovations from family, school, and the community, she encouraged the women scientists to increase interaction with stakeholders to correct long-held myths and misinformation about modern biotechnology. "Together as women in bioscience, let's start from what is working, while enhancing the capacity of our researchers to develop relevant GM crops as regulators conduct risk assessment on biodiversity and biosafety in general," she advised. 

Researchers from Rwanda Agricultural Board informed participants that the Government has commissioned a feasibility study to fully map out appropriate areas for biotech application including agriculture, health, and animal biotechnology. They called on partnerships for strengthening their research and communication skills in readiness for full implementation of the biotechnology program once the studies are completed. The biosafety focal point from Rwanda Environment Management Authority Emmanuel Kabera assured the researchers of government's commitment to facilitate agri-biotech research even as the Biosafety Bill enactment process awaits parliamentary approval. The biotech sensitization sessions took place in Kigali on December 11-13, 2018 and were facilitated by the US Embassy in partnership with ISAAA AfriCenter under the African Women for Biosciences (AWfB) platform and co-supported by the Ram and Rashmi Charitable Foundation of the St. Louis Community Foundation.

For more information on the events, contact: Dr. Margaret Karembu, chair, African Women for Biosciences at mkarembu@isaaa.org and Dr. Marie-Christine Gasingirwa at cgasingirwa@mineduc.gov.rw.