Sunday, 24 February 2013

Biotechnology: Prospects and Challenges for Africa

Signature of the agreement 

on biotechnology 

(Unesco Nigeria)

4 to 8 February 2013. The International Scientific Advisory Board for the International Institute for Biotechnology, a UNESCO Category II, had its inaugural meeting and its scientific session at the University of Nigeria (Nsukka).

A one-day seminar was devoted to Biotechnology: Prospects and Challenges for Africa.The University of Nigeria (Nsukka) is hosting the International Institute for Biotechnology, a UNESCO Category II facility at Nsukka, Nigeria. This Regional Centre is the first Institute of its kind in Africa and the agreement for its establishment was signed by UNESCO and the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 15 October 2012

The meetings and scientific session on the 7 February brought together stakeholders and experts in Biotechnology from the region and beyond who addressed critical issues of Food Security and Tropical Disease Research in Africa; these being the principal focal areas of the centre.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Accra — Experts say food waste accounts for 1.3 billion tonnes every year. 
At a time when food security the world and indeed Africa is recovering from food crises, experiencing high population growth rate and struggling to increase productivity, it is pertinent to cut food waste. Experts recommend checking food expiry dates and cooking just enough to eat among several other techniques"With the World Bank warning of the possibility of a four-degrees-centigrade temperature rise by the end of the decade and an expected world population of nine billion by 2050, global food production and supply is going to be highly affected," Dennis Garrity, United Nations drylands ambassador and senior fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre told AlertNet in Nairobi. "The time to act is now."

Experts estimate that there are about 870 million hungry people in the world today, a bulk of these people are in sub-Saharan Africa, but droughts, floods and climate related plant diseases among many other factors, continually reduce access to food especially in rural areas. Experts believe that cutting the amount of food that go to waste in developed and developing countries is key to addressing this. 
A Typical Food Dump


One of Africa's food waste hotspots is the Dandora rubbish dump on the outskirts of Nairobi.The 30-acre piece of land receives 2,000 tonnes of solid waste every day, an uncertain share of it food waste. The presence of pigs, marabou storks, dogs and other animals - as well as human scavengers - indicates there is plenty to eat, however. "I have worked on this site for the past six years," said Eunice Khasandi, a 36-year-old mother of four who scavenges waste food at the dump.
"We collect food and sell it to pig farmers on the outskirts of the city," said Khasandi who is one of an estimated 6,000 scavengers, who visit the dump, according to the City Council of Nairobi
The scavengers sell a 50-kilogramme sack of waste food for Sh200 ($2.50). If the sack contained an equivalent amount of maize meal, Kenya's staple food, it would be enough to feed between 250 and 350 people if served with stew for lunch, nutrition experts say.