Biotech can boost Africa

AFRICA needs a more favourable regulatory environment to attract long-term investment if it wants to develop its agriculture, says a US agricultural biotech group.

AFRICA needs a more favourable regulatory environment to attract long-term investment if it wants to develop its agriculture, says a US agricultural biotech group.

"In our business ... we can make a huge difference in terms of using plant genetics and tools -and advise farmers to make a real change in the way they are working in developing markets," Dean Oestreich, chairperson of Pioneer Hi-Bred, said yesterday.

Biotech giants that can make resistant crops intend to become leading players in the global fight against hunger by raising agricultural output in developing countries.

Du Pont unit Pioneer has commercial operations in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya and would be keen to expand there and in west Africa, Oestreich said.

"We have to have the environment that allows a commercial entity to invest for a long term."

He was in Milan to attend a private sector forum organised by the UN's food and agriculture organisation (FAO) ahead of the world leaders' meeting on food security in Rome next week.

FAO says the number of hungry people has hit 1,02 billion this year and the world should boost food output by 70percent to feed a projected 2050 population of 9,1 billion - up from 6,8 billion now.

Pioneer, a member of West African Seed Alliance, has set up an improved seed distribution aiming to develop grain markets, Oestreich said. - Reuters

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