Strengthening Regulatory Capacity of Biosafety Regulators and Communicators for Confined Field Trial Management in Tanzania

NEPAD Agency ABNE in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, in Tanzania, organized a Confined Field Trial (CFT) management training in Environmental Safety and Biosafety Communication from October 26th-27th Dodoma, Tanzania. This important activity entailed a day of in-house training workshop and then a day for field visit to Makutopora where stack trait DT/Bt WEMA maize has been planted for confined field trials.

The objective of the training and field visit was to build a critical mass of biosafety expertise in Tanzania by empowering and strengthening the competencies of regulators in management of CFTs. It also sought to facilitate the adoption and implementation of best practices for the performance of regulatory functions and improve networking and cooperation among regulators, scientists, and decision-makers.

From left to right are: Dr woldeyesus Sinebo, Senior Programme Officer at ABNE, Ambassador Joseph Edward Sokoine, Deputy Permanent Secretary to the office of the Vice-President and Mr. Thomas Chali, Biosafety and Environment Officer at the Ministry of Environment of Tanzania

The meeting was well attended and officiated by the Deputy Permanent Secretary to the office of the Vice President and he also availed himself to be part of the field visit to the Research site the following day. The meeting brought together representatives from institutions within the regulatory system, including the Competent National Authority (CNA) on Biosafety, Institutional Biosafety Committees, Plant Quarantine Officers, Scientific Advisory Committees, Biosafety Communicators and Officers from Government Agencies involved in regulating Agricultural Biotechnology in Tanzania. It also involved local resource persons from the Ministry of Environment and TARI, the Agriculture Research institute currently conducting the DT/Bt WEMA maize.

Group picture of participants

After presentations and discussions pertaining to CFT management requirements and best practices on the first day, the field visit carried out the following day peculiarly gave most of the regulators an ideal hands-on training which some of them never received before. The experience dispelled fear about GMO crop which had been portrayed in a negative light most of the time. But the regulators found a different story to tell.
NEPAD Agency ABNE was highly commended for the support it brought to Tanzania for helping the country to establish functional biosafety regulatory systems. The approach of an Africa-led and Africa-owned was highly welcomed by the Government officials in attendance of the meeting and field visit.
It was requested that NEPAD Agency ABNE continues to stand with the progress being made by the regulators and scientists particularly as the results of the CFT trials are showing great signs. The Maize on trials had begun to post great signs which would be an ideal solution to the current challenges facing the maize industry in the country; namely Drought, Stem borers and it is also showing 80% response to the fall army warm which has devastated the maize farms in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa.