Biotechnology research, development, applications and management in Zimbabwe: Review

Esther Mpandi Khosa, Wilson Parawira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Information on the nature, trend and quality of biotechnology research, development, applications and management in a country is generally needed to improve policy decisions, guide future research and cooperation, civil society and general public knowledge, technology development agencies and to support public sector implementation of biotechnology research. However, there has been to date no comprehensive publication describing overall biotechnology research and development in Zimbabwe.The little information available only cover agricultural biotechnology in particular plant biotechnology. This paper, therefore, offers a profile of Zimbabwe's overall biotechnology research and development covering activities that provide new knowledge, and the application of biotechnological techniques, biosafety and the regulation status of the biotechnology in the country. The aim is to provide an insight and update of the state of biotechnology in Zimbabwe. This paper also aims to highlight the country's strengths and weaknesses in biotechnology research and development capacity. This information will help scientists, policy makers and regulators and other stakeholders understand the state of biotechnology in the country and serve to guide scientists who are interested in doing research in untapped areas of biotechnology in the country. Currently, Zimbabwe has a sizable number of research groups using biotechnology in a variety of areas. Current projects in agricultural biotechnology are mainly carried out at universities and public research institutes and are aimed at improving disease, herbicide, drought and insect resistance and for plant propagation. Especially plant tissue culture is widely used while work on genetic engineering is being carried in few laboratories. In food and beverages, biotechnological research is focussed on microbiology and biochemical processes anduse of starter cultures during fermentation of traditional foods. Zimbabwe is being involved in industrial biotechnology in a limited fashion, through search and use of her biological resources as sources of potential industrial enzymes. Biotechnological researches with environmental relevance include decolouration of textile dyes, wastewater treatment and biogas production from municipal, industrial and agricultural waste (water). It is found that Zimbabwe's biotechnology is mainly traditional and most research organisations are applying less advanced biotechnology techniques. Poor infrastructure, lackof human resources and funding are the major challenges to modern biotechnology development in Zimbabwe, although biotechnology research development and management is more established in the country than in most of the sub-Saharan African countries. Zimbabwe has developed the legal framework to guide research and development of modern biotechnology through its National Biotechnology Authority Act (Act 3, 2006/ Chapter 14:31). However, there is still need to develop a National Biotechnology Strategy if the country is to realise more benefits from biotechnology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-841
Number of pages17
JournalScientific Research and Essays
Volume4
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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