Kenya plans to produce genetically modified cotton seeds


Kenya on Tuesday announced plans to produce homegrown genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in order to meet a rising demand locally.

Hamadi Boga, principal secretary of the State Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research said that the country has realized increased demand for GM cotton since the introduction of commercialization of GM cotton varieties was allowed last year.

The official said that the government is looking for support from development partners to help import the seeds so that farmers can acquire them in time.

According to Kaustubh Joshi, general manager of a firm that has been contracted by the government to roll out the new GM cotton seed variety in the country, there are plans to have 15,000 local GM cotton seed producers in Kenya.

Joshi said that so far the project started with 100 farmers and is expected to increase to 500 by the end of next year through the 40 hubs that have been created to cover all cotton growing ecosystems in the country.

Margaret Karembu, director of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) AfriCenter observed that by embracing the new variety, farmers now require mainly seeds and farm management techniques.

Karembu called for enforcement of agronomic and farm management to enable farmers to benefit fully from the new cotton variety.

Compared to the old cotton variety that has been grown for many years in the region, one tree of GM cotton carries 75-100 bolls as opposed to the old variety’s 15-20 bolls.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 has identified cotton as a key sub-sector with the potential to benefit some eight million people in the drier areas of the country. The country has the potential to produce more than 260,000 bales of cotton if the area under cultivation is increased. Enditem

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