The Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN) Congress 2017 opened in Accra with a call on Agriculturists and Chemists to find a better way of puting safer food on the table.
Professor David Kofi Essumang of the Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Coast, who made the call said the issue had gone beyond food availability to food safety by emphasising on natural food or sustainable chemistry.
The three-day Congress is on the theme, “Sustainable Agriculture: How can Chemistry Scientists contribute to Agriculture Productivity” and has brought together scientists and researchers from Asia, United Kingdom and Across Africa including; Ghana to discuss the topic.
The PACN was set up in 2008 by the Royal Society of Chemistry, a not-for-profit organisation to promote a sustainable science base across Africa, to solve local challenges and contribute to global knowledge.
The PACN also aimed at enhancing collaboration between scientists, governments, universities and industry, support the scientific community to attract students to scientific careers and promote public appreciation of the role of chemical science in Africa’s future, and strengthen and build capacity within the African science base.
Prof. Essumang also emphasised the need for the network to work to encourage the youth to take up chemistry as a means of saving lives.
He said scientists need to present chemistry in a way that would be acceptable to the youth by bringing the subject down to their levels.
He said: “In our days, we used lots of calculations but here we are today, our youths are more glued to whatsapp and the internet for information. So we need to come out with new ways to attract them to accept the subject and do something meaningful to help us achieve our goals”.
Professor David Phillips, Past-President of Royal Society of Chemistry, said the 2017 Congress was a continuation of a similar one held in Ghana in 2011.
He said the Congress would discuss the contributions that the chemical sciences could make towards solving the challenge of sustainable agriculture and food security.
He said goal two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and to promote sustainable agriculture” and effort to combat hunger and malnutrition have advanced significantly since 2000.
Prof. Phillips said: “Ending hunger, food security and malnutrition for all, however, will require continued and focused efforts, especially in Asia and Africa. For Example, 793 million people are undernourished globally in 2016, down from 930 million people in 2014”.
He, therefore, called for attitudinal change to increase agricultural productivity to ensure food security.
He said the Congress was one of their efforts to bring leading scientists together to discuss current research, enhance communication and create collaboration opportunities.
He commended the team from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Ghana for their contributions and efforts towards bringing the Congress to Ghana