OPEN FORUM ON AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA (OFAB)
OPEN FORUM ON AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA (OFAB) - Program Description
OFAB was launched on 18 August 2011, as a country chapter to OFAB Africa also in response to the need for better understanding of a range of products; benefits and concerns associated with biotechnology; and for providing an opportunity to agricultural scientists and experts in Ghana, to bring the benefit of their knowledge to bear on finding solutions to Ghana's development problems.
At OFAB Ghana we seek to ensure that the critical mass of knowledge possessed by scientists on biotechnology is made available to policy makers and the public. OFAB Ghana engages its stakeholders through Conferences, Workshops, and Stakeholder meetings to bridge the gap between scientists and policy makers on the one hand and the public on the other. OFAB Ghana is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - the foremost scientific research institution in the Ghana.
Our Office is located at the Head Office of CSIR. The oversight ministry for the CSIR is the Ministry of Environment Science Technology and Innovation (MESTI). Despite the numerous scientific studies and evidence-based facts finding missions that have proved modern agricultural biotechnology derived products are economically sustainable and as safe as their conventional counterparts, many Ghanaians are sceptical of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). OFAB Ghana presents a proactive approach in making the facts clear on the GMO narrative. As part of our activities, OFAB Ghana has been training stakeholders on the facts of biotechnology.
At the turn of this century, biotechnology emerged as a powerful scientific tool that has contributed to increased agricultural productivity in many countries. Since 1996, biotechnology-derived crops have been commercially planted and their adoption has been increasing steadily. Most African countries have been reluctant to adopt biotechnology-derived products as policymakers are confronted with contradictory sources of information. Scientific facts are often mixed with social, ethical, and political considerations.
In the face of a rapidly growing population, climate change, declining agricultural productivity, and reduced resources available for agricultural research, policymakers are pressed to make the right decisions and are looking for guidance. A case in point is the establishment of the High-Level African Panel on Modern Biotechnology set up by the African Union (AU) to advise the African Heads of State on a common stand on biotechnology. At the country level, there was the need for national scientists and experts to provide policymakers and the general public with the evidence-based information needed to harness such technologies.
These needs triggered Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) to help establish a platform that aims at facilitating the flow of information from the scientific community to policymakers and the general public. The platform, known as the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Africa, was launched in Nairobi in September 2006. OFAB was initiated in response to the need for a better understanding of a range of products, benefits, and concerns associated with biotechnology. It was also to provide an opportunity to African agricultural scientists and experts to bring the benefit of their knowledge to bear on the finding of solutions to Africa's development problems.
OFAB seeks to ensure that a critical mass of knowledge possessed by scientists is made available to policymakers and the public. As part of our activities, OFAB Ghana has also been training stakeholders on the facts of biotechnology.
Forging Strategic Alliances
Advocacy is best done in a coalition of like minds. Thus, OFAB Ghana continuously creates avenues for and leverages several strategic alliances and networks. Through these partnerships, OFAB Ghana has successfully worked with stakeholders and created training opportunities for them. For example, OFAB Ghana partners have been trained in biotechnology at Cornell University, Ithaca New York, USA courtesy of our partnership with the Cornell Alliance for Science - which has broadened their understanding of biotechnology and its application in agriculture.
Seeing-is believing tours
Field trips have been organized to the Confined Field Trials (CFT) site of Nitrogen Efficient, Water Efficient, and Salt Tolerant (NEWEST) rice at Nobewan and Premium Foods Ltd in Kumasi and BT Cowpea at the premises of Savana Agricultural Research Institute (SARI-CSIR) Nyankpala, in Ghana’s Northern region.
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