Improving crops in Uganda and Africa is one of TRIDI’s top priorities. Using sophisticated genetic engineering or selective breeding, TRIDI develops a wide range of staple crop varieties for different situations and purposes. Improved crops can have more farmer-preferred traits like higher yields or desired coloration. Other improved crop varieties have a greater adaptability to a changing climatic, biological, or physical environment.
In addition, our scientists produce biofortified crops that address hunger and micronutrient deficiencies particularly in children and women. These diverse crops can also have a longer shelf life, need less time to grow, or have better disease and pest resistance making them highly valuable to farmers
Our work with improving crops through Biotechnology and Genetic Improvement is one of the cornerstones of TRIDI and continues to be an important focus and an important source of positive results.
Genetically Modified Seed Central in Saik’s Agricultural Manifesto
Biotechnology is any technique that uses living organisms or substances from living organisms to make or modify a product, improve plant, animal breeds or micro-organisms for specific purposes while biosafety is the safe development, transfer, application, and use of biotechnology and its products.
Central in Saik’s lecture was that the future of agriculture could be genetically modified organisms, which he has re-baptized as genetically modified organic (GMO). He explained why GMOs have been resisted and continue to be. In his message, Saik suggests that commercial interests such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Chipotle—grocery chains and restaurants that seem interested in pushing a mandate of anti-industrialization of agriculture onto consumers—have led to a great deal of suspicion about GMO technology. In other words, he argues that a non-science movement is closely related to money; the rise of “Big Organic” the back of fear and suspicion, not on science. GM seeds have the opportunity to provide many benefits to farmers.
In Uganda GM maize seeds have been developed to tolerate drought and resist pests, GM cassava to resist diseases, GM sweet potatoes to resist pests and viruses, GM cotton to resist pests, and GM banana to resist pests and diseases. Denying farmers access to such technology deprives them of key input for production and makes farming more expensive. The other nine key drivers in the agricultural manifesto are non-science, market, sensor technology, 3D printing, Robotics, water, precision agriculture, artificial intelligence, and data. This book is written to enable farmers, agribusiness communities, and consumers to stay informed about the future of agriculture.
BIOSAFETY REGULATORY SYSTEMS
We implemented advocacy and communication with a focus on supporting the review process of the Bill for Enactment of the National Biosafety Act 2017. The final version of the text of the report for Science and Technology Committee of Parliament had some errors and omissions which after consultations with legal experts in biosafety regulations had advised that the text needs to be improved so that the Bill if adopted into Law should be one that regulates and nor promotes or bans the use of genetic engineering.
Others now believe that we need a law that excludes CRISPR in the regulation process. TRIDI sensitized, communicated and advocated for the revision of the text in the current report.