BY ANITA NDERU
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma is calling for urgent lifting of the ban on Bacteria Thurensis (BT) cotton technology in order to increase efficiency and yield in cotton growing counties.
Speaking during a Governors’ brief on the state of food security at a hotel in Nairobi on Thursday, Ranguma said BT technology will see less environmentally hazardous pesticides needed to curb the ball worm and weed infestation.
The previous government had banned importation of BT cotton technology until a taskforce that was created gave their findings on its safety. The report by the taskforce is expected to be released by the end of the week.
He says according to research, the crop goes from being sprayed 12 times to just three, thus decreasing farming expenses and producing better yields of cotton.
He added the time for use of such technology had come especially with apparel companies looking to invest in Kenya’s EPZ and the high demand for cotton required will need to be met.
“We need to commercialize BT cotton as a country; we can increase employment in all the cotton belt areas.”
“With the existence of those now more than 20 apparel companies and there are still more who are interested from Europe to produce here we can create employment for our people, we will grow as a nation but to commercialize there is need to lift the ban.”
The Kenya Agricultural research institute (KARI) has already given the green light on the safety of the technology.
South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan are among the African countries that have already embraced the technology.
“I made a trip to Burkina Faso and I had a chat with very many farmers and the summary is, increased yield by unit area. So, it means there is more money in their pockets, and it means there are better livelihoods; and it means they can educate their children, and it means they can pay for their health”
He went on and said: “Reduction of pesticide sprays, is connected with health and environment, reduction of use in water so you need little water to get the yield that is so much for you to grow and the cost has gone down.”
Use of BT cotton will also see a reduction in labour for the farmer, so their time is released to partake in other economically valuable activities.
Other benefits include the manufacturing of oil, cotton and seed care.
The population in Kenya has been on the rise and the change in climate is causing fewer yields to be harvested and the threat of famine is now a day-to-day reality.
Genetically modifying crops have been adapted in most parts of the world as the answer to faster and healthier yields, and the profit reports are alarmingly impressive.
Crops like sweet potatoes, cassava and sorghum are some of the genetically modified foods in Kenya according to the technical officer of the Tree Biotechnology Programme Trust Maryam Ndope who also attended the briefing.