Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Museveni Supports Agricultural Biotechnology; Speech


                                   PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA



27-29 SEPTEMBER 2017

Honorable Ministers from Uganda and all other African Countries,

Honorable Members of Parliament,

Members of Diplomatic Missions,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to welcome you all to Uganda and particularly to this first ever high level conference on the Application of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in Harnessing Opportunities for Africa’s Agricultural Transformation.
I have repeatedly pointed out that if we do not increase our Agricultural Production, we will not feed ourselves and like in most developing countries, Agriculture still remains the most important sector of the economies of Sub Saharan Africa in terms of GDP contribution, employment and foreign exchange earnings.

Agriculture is the sector upon which the success of Sub Saharan Africa’s ambition for a steady economic growth rests. However, the yields of both crops and livestock in Sub Saharan Africa remains very low compared to global averages due to several challenges. Some of these challenges require us to harness the power of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) to transform African agriculture.

Africa has an opportunity that can help transform its agriculture to be a force of food security and economic growth. There are several advances in science, technology and innovation worldwide that offer Africa new tools needed to promote sustainable agriculture. Our efforts must begin by strengthening investments in breakthrough technologies, such as climate resilient and disease resistant crops and livestock using both conventional and genetically engineered approaches.

Science, Technology and Innovation is making a profound impact on agriculture production globally. The agriculture of the future will be very different from the agriculture of today and vastly different from the agriculture of the past.

One of the key technologies that is of particular focus is Agricultural biotechnology. I have repeatedly said that there is nothing wrong with this technology. We have been using it for generations and there is nothing wrong with it. However, there are lots of controversy due to misinformation which unfortunately, seems to have been bought by some legislators.

The origin of this controversy seems to have been partly legitimized through international biosafety legal instruments, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB). The CPB required each signatory to put in place a national legal framework for safe development and commercialization of Genetically Modified Organisms. As a consequence, most countries in Africa have either put in place, or are working to develop, legal frameworks for development and deployment of GMOs.

My government is committed to using Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) to advance economic development. This is well articulated in my 23 Strategic Guidelines and Directives to the cabinet and in the NRM Manifesto of 2016-2021 as minimum standards for Uganda to attain the middle-income status.

Throughout history advances in Science and Technology have always been the primers for social change. STI has accordingly emerged as the major driver of national development globally. Scientific, technological and innovation advancement are a critical precursor for industrialization and socioeconomic development. 

They enable the creation of new firms and/or industries that act as avenues for translating Research and Development (R&D) outputs into commercialized outcomes comprising of new products, processes and enterprises. As Uganda aspires for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth, as expressed in the Vision 2040 and the National Development Plan II (NDP II), the Ugandan Science Technology Engineering and Innovation (STEI) ecosystem with the advantages of a large demographic dividend and the huge talent pool, will need to play a defining role in achieving the national Vision and Goals. The national Science Technology Engineering and Innovation (STEI) enterprises must become central to national development.

My government created the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI) in June 2016 to provide a basis for enhancing sector coherence and coordination.

One of the priorities for the Ministry is to spearhead the retabling and consideration by Parliament of the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill 2012. This Bill must be adopted for Ugandan farmers to access biotechnology products to increase their production.

I support the proposal by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation to establish a high level platform for Science, Technology and Innovation (PFST) Chaired by myself whose goal will be to identify, synthesise and articulate policy and strategic issues to support coherent and evidence-based decision-making by various arms of Government on STI matters especially matters related to biotechnology.

For all guests outside Uganda and in Africa, I call upon you to support your governments to embrace use of Science, Technology and Innovation in development. On the subject of GMOs, let us all move as a block and all decisions should be based on sound science. This technology is working elsewhere and we should not be left behind, the way we missed out during the green revolution that brought food security to South East Asia. We should not allow activists to continue confusing our legislators.

For God and My Country.



(The speech was read by the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja) 

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