Sun, 18 Nov 2018

Sustainable agriculture and food security

High level discussions with senior officials focused on how the IAEA assists Member States in the safe and appropriate use of nuclear and related technologies for improving crop varieties, which contributes to food security and sustainable agricultural development globally.

"Irradiation of agricultural products prolongs shelf lives, resulting in a secure rice supply, more markets for the country's agricultural products and higher profits for farmers," Mr Amano said.

Other issues, such as enhancing food security and competitiveness of the Philippines' agricultural exports by creating irradiation facilities within reach of farmers in the provinces and close to agricultural centers, were also discussed. Currently there is only one irradiation facility located at the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, established with IAEA assistance.

Enhancing health

Mr Amano discussed the role of radiopharmaceuticals for cancer diagnosis and treatment with senior health officials. He was informed that there are currently only three medical cyclotrons to produce radiopharmaceuticals used for cancer diagnosis, and the government is planning to install three more cyclotrons in regions outside the capital.

Other health topics discussed included building capacity in the use of the sterile insect technique that helps to control the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit Dengue and Chikungunya, as well as equipment for the rapid detection of these viruses.

Increasing youth awareness in the nuclear field

Mr Amano met with Secretary of Science and Technology Fortunato de la Pea, where discussions included creating science parks and identifying and implementing a curriculum to attract secondary school level youth to this specialized technology.

While in Manila, Mr Amano was the guest of honour at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Education and Department of Science and Technology on 8 February.

At the event, Mr Amano explained that Asia and the Pacific region Member States had voiced concerns about the decline in students taking up science and technology courses. To address this, the IAEA had launched pilot projects in a number of countries, including the Philippines, to raise awareness of nuclear science and technology among secondary school students and teachers, he said.

The pilot projects have resulted in the initial training of teachers in four countries with IAEA assistance, and has brought nuclear science and technology lessons to over 24 000 secondary level school students.

Mr Amano also unveiled a new IAEA four-year project entitled 'Educating Secondary Students and Science Teachers on Nuclear Science and Technology', commencing this year with 19 countries taking part in a workshop in Manila to launch it. "I am confident that this project will lead to an increase in the number of bright young people who take up studies in the nuclear field in the coming years," he said. "They will then be well-placed to contribute to the health, well-being and prosperity of their countries."

Mr Amano's other appointments included a meeting with the President of the Asian Development Bank Takehiko Nakao and Vice President Wencai Zhang where issues such as collaborative work on improving food safety and security, water management and human health, using nuclear techniques, were discussed.

The Philippines visit from 7 to 9 February was the second leg of Mr Amano's three-country Asian tour. He visited Indonesia from 5 to 7 February and his final stop over is Thailand this week.

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