Accra, May 22, GNA – Ghana needs a biological museum to characterize and conserve biodiversity and well identify and protect them for the sustenance of humans, plants, organisms and aquatic life.
Dr Michael Osae, a Deputy Director at the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, said the country could only conserve its biodiversity if it knew all of them.
Biodiversity refers to all the variety of life that can be found on earth for plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms as well as the communities they form and the habitats in which they live.
Dr Osae said this at a forum held to observe the International Day for Biological Diversity organised by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and its partners in Accra on Wednesday.
The national theme for the Day was; “Promoting Our Indigenous Foods and Medicines; a Catalyst for Achieving the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda” while the Global theme was; “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health”.
Dr Osae called for the strict enforcement of the closed seasons on fishing and hunting, adding that, it was necessary to avoid the extensive use of agrochemicals and insecticides, which were damaging biodiversity particularly foods and medicines.
“There is a saying that, ‘Eat your food as Medicine, otherwise you will eat your medicine as Food’ and that means what we eat contributes immensely to our health while medicines contribute to our wellbeing,” he said.
He also advised the public to desist from destroying organisms such as termites and bees unnecessarily, because some of them were pollinators and served as organic matters to make the land fertile for food production.
“As a country, we have not safeguarded our biodiversity with the imbalances we create in our ecosystem, neither have we been concerned about what comes into the country. We rather focus mainly on what goes out of the country in order not to destroy our positions in the international market,” he said.
He advised that structures and measures be put in place at entry points to detect items that could be dangerous to the country’s biodiversity and foods.
Professor Mary Obodai, the Director of the Food Research Institute (FRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said research had revealed that more than 90 per cent of food varieties had disappeared in the last 100 years while half of many domestic animals had been lost.
She noted that locally varied food production systems were under threat while agro biodiversity, as well as essential knowledge on traditional medicines and local feeds were disappearing.
There was an urgent need to develop and promote synergies and strategies to reverse the strength that emphasized on the positive role of restoring food biodiversity for human nutrition and poverty alleviation, she said.
Prof Obodai said CSIR was developing methods for building up and maintaining the indigenous agricultural developmental ecosystem to increase the resilience for local food systems, ensuring food security and safety in promoting health and economic stability for future generations.
She disclosed that the CSIR was also conducting market oriented food science and technology research to address issues along the food value chain right from the source, through production to processing and to the consumer.
Dr Kofi Donkor, a Research Scientist at Centre for Plant Medicine Research, Mampong Akuapem, said there was a lot to gain in herbal medicine when it was given the needed attention and that the industry in 2016, contributed an estimated 71 billion dollars to the world’s economy.
He called on herbal practitioners to stop cutting down plants, only, for medicines, but rather resort to the cultivation of medicinal plants to help generate more revenue for the country.
He suggested that a modelled factory be set up to enable herbal medicine practitioners to manufacture their products and sold locally and export to reduce the rate of importing foreign medicines and the budgetary allocation to health.
Nana Kwadwo Obiri, the General Secretary of the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association called on the government to ensure that herbal medicines were included in the National Health Insurance drug list.
He said: “If they want us to stop advertising our medicines in the media, then, they should enrol traditional herbal medicines onto the National Health Insurance Scheme,” he said.