Professor Marian Dorcas Quain, Chief Research Scientist, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Crop Research Institute (CRI); and nine other nominees have been honoured at the 2022 Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Awards.
OFAB, a project of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), awarded the nominees during a ceremony to mark the 2nd OFAB Day, an annual event held in Accra, for their contributions to the prosperity of farming in Africa.
This year’s OFAB Day was on the theme: “The Role of Biotechnology in Achieving Africa’s Development Aspirations.”
OFAB, now operating in 10 African countries, convenes stakeholders contributing to the biotechnology space to share knowledge and experiences in creating awareness on agricultural biotechnology in the achievement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the Malabo Declaration, and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).
The nominees were carefully selected by OFAB chapter countries in consultation with OFAB boards, they include former Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, one of the African biotechnology heroes, awarded for supporting farmers’ rights to access modern agricultural technologies and innovations.
The rest are Mr Kabir Ibrahim of Nigeria; Prof James Bokosi of Malawi; Dr Mandefro Nigussie of Ethiopia; Prof Chantal Zoungrana Kabore of Burkina Faso; Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo of Uganda, Dr Patrick Karangwa of Rwanda; Dr Roda Sansao Nuvunga of Mozambique; and Mr Daniel Mugo Magondu of Kenya.
Prof. Quain is a plant biotechnologist with expertise in plant physiology, tissue culture, molecular biology, genetic engineering and biosafety.
A visibly elated Prof Quain, in her remarks, highlighted her unpopular journey of using biotechnology tools to improve crops over years but which is being celebrated today as an important tool to transform Africans Agriculture.
She thanked AATF for the significant recognition, adding that it gives her impetus to innovate more and to better the lives of farmers.
Dr Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, in a statement read on his behalf, said the OFAB Day theme resonated with continental goals at a time Africa was accelerating efforts toward food sufficiency.
“Biotechnology as relatively new science has been met with resistance in Ghana due to lack of understanding and misinformation about the technology in the public,” he stated.
“The biggest challenge, which may hold for other African nations, is the knowledge gap between scientists and the public who are the end users of the biotech products.”
Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, AATF’s Director, Product Development and Commercialization, said the cross-section of actors were celebrated for their contribution to the advancement of agriculture biotechnology during their normal lives and activities.
“The nominated policymakers, scientists and farmers have championed biotechnology not for personal gain, but because of belief in its potential to uplift the people’s livelihoods,” he said.
“Through their example, we learn that each one of us, in our areas of expertise and influence can promote the role of science in the Africa’s development.”
Prof Mike Yaw Osei-Atweneboana, Acting Director-General CSIR, Ghana, in a speech read on his behalf, said since OFAB’s establishment on 18 August 2011, it had consistently facilitated dialogues and conversations to promote the role of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), particularly agricultural biotechnology toward a prosperous and food-secure Africa.
He urged the nominees to continue supporting agricultural biotechnology development and OFAB chapters in their countries.
Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw, a Senior Research Scientist, CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), who is also the OFAB Ghana Coordinator, said OFAB was a baby of AATF, established to do advocacy on biotechnology that was associated with genetically modified technology, and that they intended ensuring people accept biotechnology naturally without force.
Mrs Linda Asante-Agyei, Vice President, Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), said OFAB Ghana had since its inception in August 2011, being working with the media and the Government to propagate the good news and the benefits of agricultural biotechnology to policy makers and other stakeholders.
Mr. Jeremy Quedraogo of Burkina Faso was adjudged winner of the OFAB Africa 2022 Media Awards.
AATF is contributing to the wealth and health of Africa’s smallholder farmers, showing how progress is possible when governments, NGOs, the private sector, researchers and farmers work together to unleash technology that targets specific production challenges and opportunities.