Kenya mulls deployment of agricultural biotechnology to boost food security

Agriculture Produce
Agriculture Produce

Kenya is exploring large scale deployment of agricultural biotechnology to boost food production, an official said on Thursday.

Hamadi Boga, principal secretary for agricultural research at the ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, said deployment of agricultural biotechnology is key to addressing famine in regions prone to drought.

“Drought tolerance crops are an option for the farmers so that they are not tied to relief food for the rest of their lives,” Boga said during the first national dialogue on Genetically Modified (GM) crops held in Nairobi.

He said the government has confidence in regulatory agencies that are looking at safety of genetically engineered crops.

Boga welcomed the dialogue on genetically modified crops and affirmed the government’s commitment to support sober and objective discourse on modern agricultural technologies.

“The dialogue is highly acceptable since its key in improving public perceptions on genetically modified crops,” said Boga.

He, however, cautioned against nullifying a scientific fact based on social, political, ethical or religious beliefs.

Boga said that a ban that was imposed on GM crops research in 2012 by the ministry of health will be lifted before the end of 2019.

Farmers at the forum urged the government to approve Bt cotton for commercial planting saying they have recorded big losses with conventional cotton due to its susceptibility to African bollworm.

“We have been waiting for GM cotton and maize for quite a long time,” said Daniel Magondu, chairman of the Society for Biotech Farmers of Kenya.

He said that the long delay puts scientist’s effort in jeopardy as farmers stand to lose confidence in their research if it is timely.

The dialogue was organized Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation, National Biosafety Authority and Kenya Universities Biotechnology Consortium.

This is part of a national program aimed at promoting public awareness on agricultural biotechnology as the country makes significant strides towards commercialization of GM crops in the country. Enditem

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