Tanzania to build research capacity

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA – Tanzania has been advised to make sure it builds its capacity on research in order to find out both the ‘positive and negatives’ of whether or not GM crops could be relevant for the country.

Speaking to East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam last week, Dr. Asifa Nanyaro of Tanzania Academy of Science said there was no way a country can develop without doing research because capacity building was all about practical research.

Nanyaro was referring to a recent Tanzania’s biotechnology act that bears both the researchers and users including the manufacturer of GM product responsible for any effects that could be caused by GM crops.

He said capacity building was an important tool that could help the government make sound decisions and stand at a better chance of advising the government because we are very behind in terms of human resource.

“Academicians say that it is only through research that a country can be able to move and develop science forward, Nanyaro said adding that in most cases Africa has been using knowledge of other peoples’ products.”

Nanyaro stressed that it is only through practical research that the safety and security issues can be realized. Academicians work is to advise the government on biotechnology issues and give answers to the government be it sing foreign or local experts.

“There is fighting for resources due to population increase and there comes the issue of technology application in order to increase food security which I believe should have been given the due priority.”

He however insisted that the research that needs to be car ried to determine the effects of GM crops in the country needs to be independent without any foreign interest attached to it.

“All we need is the use of professional team that would be titled to do professional assessment on biotech in order to know its pros and cons.”

He said that both cross breeding and hybridization involves the change of genes in order to come up with better ones and so is biotech application.

Different organizations get funds from foreign firms to serve the funders interests and that should be refrained, he said, adding that those funders give funds to advance their interests just like on tea and coffee where Europe and the US have had an interest in funding research.

According to him, what is needed is for the country to allocate a 1% of its GDP just like the President Jakaya Kikwete had promised last year in order to advance research on crop related issues in the country.

wHe said Tanzania government in collaboration with agriculture institutions in the country need to make sure that they produce more surplus seeds for all Tanzania farmers.