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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya political leaders renew call for commer-
cialization of Genetically Modified cotton 

BUSIA (Xinhua) -- Kenyan officials on Tuesday renewed call for the commercialization of Genetically Modified (GM) cotton to help boost the country’s economy.

Led by Florence Mutua, the female representative in the National Assembly from western Kenyan county of Busia, local leaders observed that GM cotton will transform farmers’ livelihoods by expanding their revenue streams.

The crop will increase farmers’ production by about five folds - from approximately 572 kg per hectare to about 2,500 kg per hectare, they said in a joint statement issued during a field visit to Busia.

They noted that the new cotton variety has the ability to protect itself against harmful pests and insects and will help reduce production costs by up to four times.

The leaders also said that with a revamped cotton sub-sector, Kenya will produce sufficient textile and apparel products for domestic market and for export to the world’s richest economies.

The leaders who included Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamoong said that the adoption of biotech cotton will see the country realize its full production potential.

The new variety stands to help improve production that currently stands at 25,000 bales and also help textile mills like Rift Valley Textile (Rivatex) stop importing raw cotton from neighboring countries and instead buy from local farmers, said the leaders.

They called on the government to suspend an import ban on importation of genetically modified (GM) foods in 2012 since it is sending negative message about agricultural biotechnology.

They also said that the government is now awaiting the completion of National Performance Trials to identify suitable varieties for different agro-ecological zones.

The leaders who recently toured India on a fact finding mission said that smallholder farmers in the Asian country who grow it spend considerably limited capital during production.

They attributed low cost of production to the remarkably reduced number of sprays that has saved them money in purchasing the chemicals and labor for spraying.

“The new variety has a number of benefits to farmers that can help change living standards in the region that is mainly a cotton growing area,” said Ojamoong.

He told farmers to increase the acreage under cotton cultivation so as to enjoy the benefits of the crop.

The Governor revealed that he will promote the growing of GM cotton once it is officially approved by the government.

Ojamoong also told key stakeholders in the cotton subsector value chain to sensitize the public on the importance of genetically modified variety.

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization is currently supervising National Performance Trials in seven agro-ecological zones where cotton is grown.

             

 

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