Potential benefits of genetic modification (GM) technology for food security and health improvement in West Africa: Assessing the perception of farmers in Ghana and Nigeria
AbstractWe assessed the perception of farmers towards potential adoption of genetic modification (GM) technology for improving health, food security and agricultural productivity using a semi-structured interview. A total sample of 54 small-scale farmers participated in 6 focus group meetings (FGMs) and 23 in-depth interviews at six locations in Ghana and Nigeria (West Africa). Our results reveal that most farmers have a very poor understanding of GM technology which they often misunderstood as traditional plant breeding biotechnology. While most respondents focused on the potential benefits of GM technology including high-yielding varieties, better nutritional value and shorter growing cycle crop traits, only a few respondents were concerned about the potential health and environmental risks of GM technology. Root and tuber crops such as cassava, yam and sweet potato were mostly discussed for health improvement and food security through GM technology. This study emphasizes the need to recognize challenges such as lack of awareness, inadequate training, low level of education and poor extension services among others in introducing new technology including GM technology to resource poor farmers in African countries like Ghana and Nigeria. We conclude that failure to address these challenges will impede the adoption of GM technology. Therefore, Ghanaian and Nigerian government(s) must put in place policy measures to address these problems.
Keywords: Food security, health improvement, genetic modification (GM) technology, Ghana, Nigeria, West Africa farmers
African Journal of Biotechnology, Vol. 13(2), pp. 245-256, 8 January, 2014