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
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.