NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya on Thursday sought public comments before
embarking on a national performance trials (NPT) of genetically
modified cotton (Bt cotton).
Chief Compliance Officer at the National Environmental
Management Authority (NEMA), said it is mandatory that the
environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the proposed trials be
done before the final release of the insect-resisting cotton and
its varietal derivatives in Kenya.
“We have to call for
public comments before commencing with the trials as required by
the law,” Njuki told journalists in Nairobi on Thursday.
She said that
Kenyans are free to raise comments up to April 15, thereafter
NEMA will proceed to make their decision by end of April based
on the public suggestions.
“We have developed a
cotton revitalization roadmap with conventional and hybrid seed
initiative which will then be followed by the growing of Bt
cotton by 2019,” said Rajeev Arora, chairman of Bt cotton
Taskforce in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.
Arora said that the
commercialization of Bt cotton will produce yields three times
of conventional varieties.
He said that 20
counties have been mapped out as potential areas for
revitalization of cotton production with a total of 200,000
Arora observed that
there are plans to increase cotton production from the current
5,500 tonnes to 50,000 tonnes in the next five years.
“This will enable us
to create 680,000 jobs through cotton farming, 210 jobs at
ginning, 6,000 jobs at integrated mills and 25,000 at garments
manufacturers,” he added.
He noted that under
the plans, local production will help substitute 12 million U.S
dollars worth of imports, promote lint export and create self
sufficiency of the lint.
Simon Gichuki, Chief
Scientist at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research
Organization (KALRO), said scientists have been researching on a
technology to reduce farmers’ losses due to attacks on the crop
by ball weevils for the past 10 years.
Gichuki said that
even though a major breakthrough to the Bt-cotton
commercialization initiative was realized in August 2011 when
the Biosafety Regulations were gazetted, the process has delayed
due to misunderstanding of the technology.
“We have reached
over 7,000 farmers and hundreds of policy makers and
stakeholders in main cotton growing areas to help create
awareness on the new technology,” he said.
Gichuki added that
the technology is one of the fastest-growing agricultural
technologies globally that have helped improve livelihood of
Cotton growth in
Kenya is believed to have played a big role in poverty