Plant tissue culture biotechnology in Ethiopia: Challenges and opportunities

Author(s): Mohammed Adefa Seid

Ethiopia is the second most populous nation where 80% of its inhabitants acquire their livelihood from agriculture. However, the long-lasted subsistence agricultural mode of production of the country could not enabled the population to increase agricultural productivity and boost the national economy. In this regard, plant tissue culture technology is the likely opportunity for Ethiopian agricultural systemtowards improving agricultural yields. Indeed, so far, conventional breeding and selection of plants and animals played a vital role in agricultural productivity. Yet, unlike many developed nations, Ethiopian is at initial stages of getting benefits frommodern biotechnological products. But, nowadays, Ethiopian government is giving due attention towards designing and implementation of policies and strategies related to biotechnology, particularly in agricultural sectors. In fact, it remained difficult to use such tools to obtain solutions formajor agricultural problems due to lack of resources and well skilled personnel. But, state universities and research institutes, and some private enterprises, are playing a promising role in conducting research and producing skilled manpower in the area of biotechnology. In this regard, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) and Addis Ababa University take the leading role in doing researches related to plant tissue culture biotechnology in agricultural sectors so as to produce drought and diseases resistant crop varieties. Though biotechnology and genetic engineering has a significant contribution by addressing environmental and food safety concerns with rigorous bio-safety regulations, it could also cause hazardous problems upon human health and the ecosystem when it is applied irresponsibly and unsafely.

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