The Department of Agricultural Research in collaboration with the UN Environment held the second National Biosafety Clearing House workshop on the 19-20 June 2019 in Francistown city, Botswana. The workshop was divided into a Public awareness day on the 19th June 2019 and a training on registering information and establishing national procedures for flow of BCH information on 20th June 2019.
The public awareness day was attended by 100 participants from a diversity of key stakeholders including but not limited to farmers, government officials, private sector , consumers traders and academicians. During his opening remarks, the director of the Department of Agricultural Research (Dr. P. Mosupi), who is serving as the competent authority for the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, highlighted that genetic engineering calls for efficient approaches and informed decision making. Such informed decision is guided by scientific information, policies and laws as well as bench-marking from experiences locally and internationally. In that respect, the Biosafety Clearing house is an important portal for accessing all the relevant information on genetically modified organisms. Dr. Mosupi alluded on the the objective of the objectives of the workshop, which were to:
-Define procedure or mechanisms to the flow of information on to the BCH
-Enhance the national capacity on the use of the BCH central portal
-Enhance the availability and exchange of relevant information through the BCH
He further encouraged participants to be proactive during the proceeding of the awareness workshop, as such will contribute towards a fully functional and effective national BCH website. In concluding his his remarks, he stated that since the country is striving towards a knowledge based economy, this kind of workshops are very important. He further explained that this will without doubt impact positively on several aspects of biodiversity Conservation as well as sustainable agriculture and food security.
The second day was attended by 67 participants, mainly governmental stakeholders, researchers and civil society with expected relevant biosafety role. They learned the practical aspects of searching and registering BCH information to support the national decision making process and fufill the country obligation towards the Cartagena Protocol specially article 20. Participants brainstormed on establishing a sustainable national system for communication and flowing of information into the BCH.