This work examines trends of both conventional and modern biotechnologies in selected Eastern and Central African countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, with the aim of giving an up-to-date assessment of their national policies, institutional capacities, and the activities being carried out. Agricultural biotechnology seems to take the lead while biotechnologies related to health, industries and environment are lagging behind. Kenya leads the region with its biotechnology policy framework in place and more on-going biotechnology related activities, followed by Uganda. Tanzania has already developed its biotechnology policy but is slower to translate it into practice especially on matters related to modern biotechnology. The rest of the countries are yet to formulate their biotechnology policies but efforts are underway to achieve that goal. Plant tissue culture is done in all the countries and some projects have already been commercialised. Transgenic crops/animals projects are mainly at the field trial stage and none has been commercialised. The main constraints facing the biotechnology industry in the region are poorly skilled human resources, lack of modern facilities, poor public perception and weak political will by some governments. More vigorous practical actions are needed in order for biotechnology to benefit the people of this region in terms of food security, economic growth, improved health and environmental protection.
Key words: Biotechnology, genetically modified organisms, molecular assisted selection, tissue culture.
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