Kenyan experts have backed animal biotechnology to improve livestock, poultry and fish farming in Africa. This was during a stakeholders sensitization workshop on animal biotechnology applications and regulatory perspectives held on 22 – 24 March 2021 in Kenya. The workshop hosted by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter in collaboration with the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and partners brought together animal research scientists, regulators, decision makers, communicators, animal welfare representatives and private sector players to explore potential applications of animal biotechnology in addressing key intractable challenges in livestock, poultry and fish farming.
The workshop was conceived from a need to initiate awareness and facilitate sharing of progress and opportunities in animal biotechnology in order to catalyze knowledge-based decisions at national and regional levels. It aimed to foster deployment of animal biotechnologies within African Union (AU) member countries. This followed recommendations from the 4th International Workshop on Regulatory Approaches for Animal Biotechnology 2020 to intensify awareness creation and dialogue among animal biotechnology stakeholders.
Animal biotechnology presents breeders with tools for genetically improving animals for climate resilience, disease resistance, enhanced productivity, health among others. This translates to improved animal agriculture, profitability and reduced impact on the environment. In Africa, livestock, poultry and fish farming is faced with numerous challenges including disease outbreaks, low producing breeds, feed shortage, climate stress and the growing negative impact on the environment.
The African Union Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) and Agenda 2063 emphasizes the need to employ science, technology and innovation as tools of change. Modern biotechnology is one of the tools envisaged to improve animal agriculture. As a consensus, it was agreed that African states should identify priority needs and opportunities for deployment of animal biotechnology in addressing specific production challenges.
Animal biotechnology research has picked pace globally, regionally and locally. The regulatory landscape is also taking shape, with USA, Canada, South America and Asian countries taking lead in enacting laws to govern animal biotechnology research and development. Kenya, through the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has drafted guidelines to govern animal biotechnology research. The NBA has so far approved nine animal biotechnology research projects in the country. Successful deployment of biotechnology in animal agriculture will rely on availability of evidence-based policies and regulations, research focus on solutions to country-specific challenges and public acceptance.
From the workshop, recommendations were made to foster regional collaboration in development of a demand-driven animal biotechnology agenda aimed at addressing constraints identified by animal farmers and consumers. Propositions were also made on building robust, science-based policies and regulations to govern animal biotechnology and food safety. In addition, communication and stakeholder engagement was identified as critical to run parallel to animal biotechnology research and development.
For more information contact Dr. Margaret Karembu, MBS, Director ISAAA AfriCenter at email@example.com