Ghana is currently undertaking biotechnology research into health; environment and animal issues to help solve the long standing challenges encountered in these fields.
Under health, biotechnology research is underway into tropical diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, filiariasis and buruli ulcer.
Research organisations involved in the research are the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Dr Hans Adu-Dapaah Director of the Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), made this known in a speech read on his behalf by Dr Stephen Amoah, a Research Scientist with CRI at a three-day media training workshop on science reporting for journalists in the northern sector of the country.
Twenty six journalists were selected from Ashanti, Brong- Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions to be part of the workshop.
Organised by the Programme Biosafety Systems in collaboration with CSIR, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise of NEPAD and Africa Harvest, the training is aimed at equipping the journalists with right information on biosafety and biotechnology issues.
Dr Adu-Dapaah explained that with environmental biotechnology, specific concentration is on forestry due to the increased loss of forests in Ghana and its implications on the environment, concerns raised for conservation and sustainable use of forests for long survival as well as the increased demand for wood-derived products on the world market.
Timber, he noted is one of Ghana?s main export commodities and there is the need to undertake the research to preserve and conserve the forest for better development.
With Animal Biotechnology under way at the Animal Research Institute, molecular techniques are being developed to determine the sex of certain animals citing guinea fowl as an example.
The research he explained involves the development of recombinant vaccines, molecular identification of rumen microflora in domestic and wild ruminants, identification of major genes for uterine capacity for littering pigs.
He explained that about 54.7 per cent of land suitable for agricultural production is currently under cultivation and with the current population projected to be 51.7 million in the next 50 years, biotechnology is the appropriate technology to complement the numerous efforts in mitigating the envisaged problems.
?Biotechnology applications are towards, reduce maturation time, increased nutrients, yields and stress tolerance, improved resistance to disease, pest and herbicide.?, he added.
For crops biotechnology, Ghana is currently undertaking Confined Field Trials for four crops approved by the National Biosafety Committee.
The GM Rice (NEWEST Rice) is being carried by CRI and it is nitrogen use efficient, water use efficient and salt tolerant, high protein sweet potato is being carried out by CRI whilst Bt. Cowpea and Bt. Cotton are being carried out Savanna Agricultural Research Institute of CSIR. This is purely for research purpose only and is non-commercial.
Dr Adu-Dapaah called for continued training of available manpower and stakeholders, improving upon facilities and equipment, deepening cooperation between universities, research institutions, the private sector and government agencies and encouraging the securing of sustainable funds for research.
?Linkages between African countries as well as with the developed world should be stimulated through existing networks and joint projects,? he added.