34 / SEEDWORLD.COM JUNE 2018 INTERNATIONALAGRICULTURALDEVELOPMENT Biotechnology Has A Role in Africa “BIOTECH IS A scale-neutral technology that can be easily adopted by both the smallholder farmer in a village in Zimbabwe and the large-scale farmer in Iowa,” shares Dr. Dianah Ngonyama of Ames, Iowa, who serves as president of the Association of African Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD). The Diaspora was founded in 2008 and launched in 2010 by the World Bank, in Washington, D.C., with assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “I was very touched when last year the President of African Development Bank and 2017 World Food Prize laureate, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, called on the world to support the ENABLE Youth Program,” says Ngonyama. This program targets the training of 300,000 African youth over the period 2016-21 in agricultural skills that are required for them to lead the successful transfor- mation of Africa. For reasons such as these, she and fellow scientists, managers and university professors across the U.S., Canada and Europe formed AAAPD. She says of those comprising the Diaspora: “We are committed to giving back by helping strengthen our African agricultural colleges and universities by facilitat- ing technology transfer to speed up the rate of trans- formation. We encourage greater adoption of modern agricultural technologies by African youth than has been the case with the older generations.” To enable Africa to feed itself will require a success- ful transformation that remains open to consideration of all available technologies. “For the continent to be still wasting time to this date, debating whether to adopt biotech, is a real shame to our continent and a disservice to our poor suffering African communities,” Ngonyama says. “In the meantime, the rest of the world has been progressing and producing excess food, that is then shipped to feed our starving fellow Africans. We are still busy hosting conference after conference to debate on the issue.” As biotechnology introductions become more commonplace, the practice of stewardship must accompany them in a “hand-to-hand” fashion to garner broader acceptance and gain adoption. Industry, gov- ernments and communities will require strong assur- ances that best stewardship practices support new introductions. DENNIS THOMPSON is dedicated to delivering solutions and empowering people and organiza- tions to solve complex problems related to international agricul- tural development and global food security. His career experience and international credentials include Extension education, agronomy and admin- istration. Responsible biotech stewardship allows Africans to benefit from using the technology, while protecting their environment and natural germplasm. Ngonyama suggests the concerns raised about protecting local germplasm can effectively be addressed through proper regulation and establishment of best biotech stewardship practices. These beliefs led her to become a Global ETS audi- tor, so that she could become available to help ensure that best biotech stewardship practices are followed allowing both the non-GMO and GMO industries to pro- gress separately with little fear of cross-contamination. Ngonyama foresees the creation of numerous “win-win” situations, as new private and public-sector employment and investment opportunities surface through industry growth. Increased demand for research services is expected to develop as industry collaborations evolve with technology companies (or their licensees) to perform a greater number of and more complex efficacy and performance trials. Many challenges face crop production in Africa. There is need for traits to combat insects, weeds and disease, drought and soil nutrient availability. After spending 20-plus years as a senior research scientist leading various R&D projects at different organizations and companies, Ngonyama follows her passion to contribute to the development of Zimbabwe and those of her African countrymen. The underlying inspiration of her passion? Auntie Susan. One of a long line of very strong hard-working women. An icon who “without firing a shot, going into detention or organizing political resistance scored a major victory for the freedom and liberation of Zimbabwe,” reflects Ngonyama. Dr. Ngonyama serves on the Iowa State University Research Foundation Technology Transfer team as technology commercialization and germplasm licens- ing manager. She remains dedicated to the goals of the Diaspora and fosters growth and development of AAAPD. SW WHERE ON THE WEB Visit www.excellencethroughstewarship.org to learn more.