How to achieve food security in Africa was the subject of discussion at a symposium
organised by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Centre of Biotechnology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu State. Prof Umezulike Opara,was the
keynote speaker at the event with the theme: Sustainability
science in the advent of Agenda 2030.
Opara, who spoke on From rising to arisen: Harnessing the potential of science to transform Africa and the world in 2063, said African leaders should be concerned about increasing cases food insecurity on the continent despite its huge human and natural resources.
According to him, there is a prediction that by 2018, the number of hungry people in the world would likely go down except in Africa.
He attributed the cause of food insecurity in Africa to the continent’s inability to use science and technology to its
Opara said: “Africa can compete favourably with other continents in the areas of human and natural resources and land mass, but it has continued to suffer the handicap by inadequate application of science and technology to solve its problems.”
Opara called on African scientists to rise to the challenge of solving the continent’s problems instead of relying on help from outside.
The don said more food could be made available to Africans through the introduction of post-harvest biotechnology, which can minimise waste and improve the chances of developing new products.
While advising African leaders
to invest on researches, Opara
urged scholars and
researchers to engage in multi-disciplinary research to fast track food production and economic development.
Lucy Hoareau, a programme expert at UNESCO headquarters, said the body remained committed to tackling food insecurity and
diseases in Africa. She said that the Biotechnology Centre
in UNN was meant to develop human capacity required to drive UNESCO’s mandate in Africa.
She encouraged women to show interest in science to enable them contribute to the effort to tackle poverty, food
insecurity and diseases in Africa.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof Benjamin Ozumba, said the UNESCO Category II Biotechnology Centre was established, following an agreement between UNESCO and the Federal Government in 2012.
The mandate of the centre, he said, is to carry out research on food security, bio-
resources conservation and
tropical disease, with the focus on using indigenous
resources to tackle the challenges.
“The centre will be equipped with the state of the arts facilities for cutting edge researches, and it will serve as a hub for biotechnology research, not only in Nigeria but for Africa,” he said.
He reiterated the commitment of the university to achieving the mandate of the centre, promising that his administration would do all within its powers to ensure that the centre achieve its as
envisioned by UNESCO.