Biotech Updates

Workshop on Effective Management of Insect Resistance Programs in South Africa

November 4, 2011

An effective and functional African agri-biotech system requires customized and readily accessible Insect Resistant Management (IRM) resources and technical backstopping for the continent's stakeholders. This was one of the conclusions that wrapped-up a two- day Training of the trainers (TOT) workshop on insect resistance management (IRM) and stewardship practices held in Pretoria, South Africa from 27 to 28 October, 2011. The workshop organized by the NEPAD Agency ABNE in collaboration with CropLife International and AfricaBio was attended by 44 participants, including scientists, regulators and representatives from the biotech industry drawn from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda.

Diverse stakeholders in the continent have expressed concerns about the sustainability of the economic and environmental benefits of GM crops, due to possible evolution of insect and weed resistance. Thus, the objective of the workshop were to bring together African experts to identify gaps in knowledge on IRM and come up with ways of introducing effective and long-lasting IRM programs. The workshop provided opportunity for the stakeholders to reassess the risk of resistance and to identify the most effective strategies to preserve Bacillus thurigiensis (Bt) and other novel insect-resistant technologies in an African farming environment.

One of the outcomes of the workshop was the formation of the African IRM working group that will form a resource base for follow up and updating of information for decision makers and policy developers on IRM Programs. The experts will also serve as trainers in building capacity for effective insect resistance management within the agricultural community in Africa. A listserv was to be created for the group to facilitate information exchange and service delivery.

At the end of the workshop, participants agreed that there is need for an African insect resistance management (IRM) manual that adapts the existing Crop Life International (CLI) manual by incorporating African examples. The African IRM manual should have chapters that are case and situation specific; by crop, country and agro-ecological zone. The need to create a mechanism that gets IRM strategies to African farmers including developing simplified forms and messages for farmer usage was also identified.

For more information contact Prof. Diran Makinde, director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), at