Recent advances in biotechnology provide good opportunities for immediate benefits to developing countries in this region. The innovations made in biotechnology applications include the development of micro propagation systems for many plant species and of new varieties with highly desirable characteristics. Additional biotechnological innovations were made producing many human and animal health products as well as food and feed ingredients. Biotechnological advances were further extended to the treatment and utilization of liquid and solid waste. These developments could have wide applications in agricultural production and environmental protection. Most of the biotechnological innovations and commercial applications have occurred in developed countries and much of the expertise is concentrated in the commercial private sector, there by restricting developing countries’ access to patented and proprietary technology.
In order to transfer these technologies to developing countries in this region, a biotechnology network should be established for the generation of information, training, extension and inter-regional research and development programs. This network will contribute to more use of efficient technologies and sharing of expertise and experience for agriculture for sustained productivity and improved livelihoods of farmers in the WANA region.
The Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA) in collaboration with Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR), FAO, ICARDA and ARC-Egypt held an Expert Consultation Meeting on Regional Agricultural Biotechnology Network at Cairo on 15-16 December 2007. The meeting was held under the patronage of H.E the Minster of Agriculture and Land Reclamation of Egypt, the opening session was addressed by representatives of AARINENA, ICARDA, FAO, GFAR and ARC-Egypt. The objective of the Consultation Meeting was to:
1. Review the current status of agricultural biotechnology and identify areas of critical gaps in knowledge and establish collaborative partnerships skills in biotechnology in the region.
2. Establishment of a Biotechnology network governing body to provide:
a. Guidance to the development of the program, plan of work and activities of the Network
b. Identify an Institution within the network for the management of the network
c. Set rules to coordinate and govern the functioning of the network
d. Set up technical working groups
- Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA)
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Global Forum on Agricultural Research (e-GFAR)
- International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
- Egypt - Agricultural Research Center (ARC)