Climate Change, Food Security: Biotechnology to the Rescue
“Modern Biotechnology may help to offset the effect of climate change and increase food production”.
This was the submission of a Guest speaker and Deputy Dean School of Engineering,Covenant University, Professor Ogbemi Omatete, in his presentation titled “Material Science and Engineering for African Development,” at the just concluded Second International Conference on African Development Issues(ICADI) 2015.
In his presentation, Professor Omatete defined Biotechnology as the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful product, or any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.
He highlighted the roles of Biotechnology for Material Science, which includes design, elaboration and integration of energy application. According to him, there should be considerations in Material Selection; these include functionality, cost aesthetics, consumers’ satisfaction, and product retirement.
He stated further that inside every Continent is an available resource to address her challenges. He said, “It is imperative to engage in research in material science and engineering because it improves human development”. He also highlighted examples of materials in Material Science,which are metal, ceramics, polymers, composites and semi-conductors.
Professor Omatete brought to the fore the advantages of ceramics: strength, resistance to abrasive, to chemical corrosion and very high thermal stability. He added that gel casting is an invented patent process in forming ceramics,which has the minimal financial cost, and peer recognition, among others.
He also enumerated the rewards of successful research in material science and engineering, which include Nobel prize, recognition among others. He, therefore, advised that Africa should invest in this type of research because material possession facilitates human development, and successful research in Material Science Engineering leads to fame, fortune and peer recognition though it can be expensive.
Another Guest Speaker, Director, Engineering Material Development Institute(EMDI) Akure, Nigeria, Dr. Samuel Olusunle, in his presentation titled“Material technology for infrastructural development in Africa,” noted that most of the resources in Africa have not been discovered and effectively utilized.
Headvised that government policies must be well situated and directed toward sustainable industrialization, bearing in mind the critical role in technology.
In another presentation titled“Building Capacity for Materials Research in Africa,” Professor Cleophas Loto, ably represented by Professor Samuel Wara, stated that capacity building is much more than training and includes human resource development, organizational development, `institutional and legal framework development.
According to Professor Loto, who is also the Dean, College of Engineering, Covenant University, human resource development is the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them perform effectively.
He also defined organizational development as the elaboration of management structures, processes or procedures, not only within organizations, but also the management of relationships between the different organizations and sectors (public, private and community),even nations of the African Continent.
Institutional and legal framework development is making legal and regulatory changes to enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors enlarge their capacities. “Whatever we have and do not engage does not help us,” he concluded.