Technological revolutions and breakthroughs in all sectors of economy are deeply intertwined and complement each other. Given that technology and agriculture tend to go hand in hand, the innovative achievements are being successfully employed in agricultural sector across all Africa.
When nuclear technologies as a thematic issue in the agriculture sector is mentioned, four main areas of development emerge; decline in pest / insects, increased crop production, improved food processing as well as improved animal health.
Examples are quite vivid. In Benin, soybean farmers are able to triple their income using benefits of nuclear irradiation. The implementation of isotopic techniques makes it easy to regulate the amount of nitrogen, which is necessary for plant healthy growth.
Close cooperation between farmers and scientists in this West African country brought about impressive results. Local famers see their crop amount to triple or quadruple, which is fantastic result for the country, highly dependent on soybean exports.
Indeed, for his part the Chairman of Nigerian Senate Committee of Science and Technology Prof. Ajayi Boroffice argues that the synergy between agriculture and Energy technologies can have quite a positive effect on economic efficiency of the industry.
Thus, the development of agricultural sector should not be neglected and put a premium on as potentially one of the most vibrant economy sector in consumer industry. My view is that the conversation ought to revolve around how does energy technologies plug into the main stream Economic sectors like Agriculture, how does the Provision of nuclear Energy on to the grid supplement the entire Agriculture sector?
Another example from South Africa shows that nuclear technology introduction has literally saved Western Cape’s orange industry, which was once on the brink of extinction.
The application of nuclear science helped local farmers to put an end to infestation that damaged local environment, seriously affecting the citrus industry that employed 10% of South African agricultural labour force.
How it worked.
Local farmers used the sterile insect technique which is a form of inspect pest control that uses ionizing radiation to sterilize pests that are mass-produced in special rearing facilities. The sterile insects are released systematically from the ground or by air over pest-infested areas, where they mate with wild populations, which subsequently do not produce offspring. In the few cases when sterilized males and wild females do have an offspring, it is always a completely sterile male.
As a result, this technique can suppress and, in some cases, eventually eradicate populations of insect pests. This technique is among the most environmentally friendly control tactics available, and is usually applied as part of an integrated campaign to control insect populations. Employing this technique Tanzania’s Zanzibar declared itself tsetse-free by 1997.
Food irradiation is life-saving technology, as it eradicates bacteria and parasites that can cause food-borne diseases. According to World Health Organization each year around 600 million people suffer from consuming contaminated food. As estimated WHO African Region has the highest level of foodborne diseases – more than 90 million people fall ill and around 130 000 die each year.
Against this background, the importance of implementation of nuclear technologies in agriculture is as high as never before.
That is why Nigeria, which already has a one nuclear science facility able to operate in different six modes, plans to boost its economic and scientific potential.
In Kenya, adequate Energy supply would make it possible to address huge challenges of Post-harvest loss currently been experienced, making it difficult to beneficiate the agriculture sector hence the need to advance the Nuclear Agenda to address energy gaps and thus increase productivity in the entire food chain substantially.
For example, through the provision of affordable sustainable energy it would be possible to have crops such as cereals, legumes and fish dried and treated to reduce moisture content hence increase shelve life of this crop which would intern make it possible have these produce available during drought .
Conscious of benefits that nuclear technologies can bring to the wellbeing of rank-and-file citizens, more African emerging counties are considering option of beefing up nuclear capacities. For instance, Zambia is skyrocketing with regard to nuclear science development, as the country is planning to build nuclear university and to install special radioisotope complex with the help of Russian partners to meet raising demands in key spheres of social and economic activity.
The use of nuclear technologies is life changing. According to global estimations, some 25-30% of the food harvested in many developing countries is lost because of spoilage by microbes and pests. The reduction of spoilage due to infestation and contamination is of the utmost importance, particularly in countries with and humid climates.