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State-of-the-art nuclear technology to bolster Africa’s food security

On 29 September, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) organised an event on the sidelines of the 66th General Conference to discuss nuclear techniques to improve food security in Africa

Delegates from Africa and other regions of the world came together to attend the event titled ‘Enhancing capacities of member states in Africa to achieve food security through the peaceful use of nuclear techniques'. The event consisted of a panel discussion where experts from Germany, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia and the high-level steering committee of the AFRA Agreement gathered to discuss ways in which nuclear science and technology could help increase the efficiency of agricultural production, protect soil and water resources, ensure the safety and quality of food, and facilitate export and trade of agricultural produce. 

Experts at the event also presented case studies highlighting the experience of regions like Namibia and Morocco with innovative techniques which included the use of drought-resistant crops, fallout radionuclides and climate-smart agriculture using nuclear technology. Through its technical cooperation programme, the IAEA educates countries about the importance of nuclear and related techniques and helps implement these in the agricultural sector. 

The agency has been in close cooperation with the African Union and is currently working with 47 African countries to increase agricultural productivity, build the resilience of food systems to climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture and ensure food and nutrition security, considering national and local specificities. In an article published by IAEA, Hua Liu, IAEA deputy director general and head of the Department of Technical Cooperation said, “As the IAEA, we take a holistic and integrated approach as we support member states through their national, regional and interregional technical cooperation programmes.” 

Furthermore, James Kahindi, deputy vice chancellor of Pwani University in Kenya stated that the AFRA Human Resources Development (HRD) Committee had developed a draft strategy to increase the availability of young professionals with the technical and vocational skills needed to implement climate-smart agriculture, deploy isotopic techniques and produce new plant varieties using radiation technology. The draft policy would also build a connection between nuclear establishments and academic institutions, thus promoting the work conducted with nuclear techniques and ensuring synergy between both sectors.