The Ethiopian government is counting on agricultural biotechnology to sustain national economic growth, the country’s State Minister of Science and Innovation, Shumete Gizaw, has revealed. Speaking during the opening of a technical communications workshop for biotechnology and biosafety scientists in Addis Ababa, the State Minister said the government has reaffirmed its commitment to poverty reduction through policies that support biotechnology research and innovation.
Gizaw voiced government concern over the poor state of food security in the country due to the effects of climate change. “Historically, Ethiopian food production has severely been affected by rainfall variability, extended drought, crop failure, and famine. We believe that agri-biotechnology can help combat the effects of climate change on our food systems,” he says. He also presided over the launch of a communication strategy for Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute (EBTi), which has an overarching goal of improving the knowledge and awareness in biotechnology and biosafety among stakeholders nationally. It is also targeted at enabling members of the public to make informed decisions about appropriate uses of biotechnology by providing accurate information about the benefits, risks, and impacts of crop biotech in a timely manner.
The Minister acknowledged the importance of an effective communication strategy and a functional biosafety system, without which it becomes difficult to pursue safe biotechnology development and tap benefits of the technology in the country and the region. “EBTi is mandated to provide an appropriate and effective implementation of agricultural biotechnology research and communication with the involvement of key national and international stakeholders,” Gizaw says.
EBTi Director General, Kassahun Tesfaye, explained that the strategy will provide a national communication and outreach program that allows policymakers and key stakeholders to share knowledge and make informed decisions that enhance the acceptance and use of the technology and help achieve national goals.