It has been hinted that already in many African countries population growth is outpacing that of food production. This suggests that in the wake of a period where most agricultural land interestingly continue to loss its fertility due to overexploitation, and the few fertile lands remaining compete with other uses of land such as road construction, illegal mining of minerals, building infrastructure among others, adoption of new technologies should lead the way.
Unfortunately, new technologies such as biotechnology including genetically modified crops which can contribute towards goals set by heads of Africans countries including Ghana, have been received with mixed feelings. While others say the new technology is promising and should be accepted and developed locally, others are of the view that we should adopt a wait and see attitude since many of the questions about the new technology has not yet been addressed.
Part of the challenge can be attributed to the lack of data on the benefits of this technology. And this is attributed to the lack or limited number of GM crops that are growing on the continent. In Ghana, for example, no GM crop has been commercialized even though a few are still in confined trials. National baseline studies are limited. Decisions and information on biotechnology or GM crops in the country still based on data from other countries and in some cases conjecture. These sometimes creates doubts and raise questions about the new technology.
To make good this deficiency, CSIR-STEPRI in collaboration with the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute) (GAEC –BNARI) is being sponsored by the Gates Foundation through the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, to model the cost and benefits streams of the technology using ex-ante information.
In view of this, two scientists from CSIR-STEPRI, Dr. Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw (an Agricultural Economist ) and dr. Paul Boadu (an Economist), were in Zanzibar, Tanzania for an ex-ante economic and environmental modelling training. The training sought to provide the state of the art tools for modelling to enable the scientist model the cost and benefit streams of the acceptance and adoption of biotechnology or GM crops in the agriculture sector of the country. These ex ante models will be developed and used in socio-economic and environmental impact analysis of key GM products/crops under development in the country. These will then be used to engage policy makers, politicians and other stakeholders who currently have limited knowledge and understanding and experience with the new technology. It will also help point to the right way forward for the technology’s acceptance, development and utilization in the country.