Women scientists are calling for the adoption of biotechnology to boost food security in the country.
Under the umbrella of Women for Biosciences Network, Dr Felister Makini, the deputy director general for crop research at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) said that women scientists can play a bigger role in helping female farmers in rural areas understand the technologies and exploit them for food security.
Planting of National Performance Trials (NPT) for Genetically Modified (GM) Cotton might start May once the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) gives approval.
Currently NEMA is awaiting feedback from the public which is supposed to be ready by end of April, after it issued a gazette notice for them to submit comments on an environmental impact assessment for the proposed NPT on the GM Cotton.
Speaking Thursday during an Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Nairobi, Chief Compliance Office at NEMA Margaret Njuki said they issued a gazette notice to the public to submit comments last month for the proposed NPTs at nine sites.
The nine sites proposed for the field test of GM cotton include Mwea, Katumani, Kampi ya Mawe, Bura, Perkerra, Kibos Alupe, Barwessa and Matuga.
Simon Gichuki from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO), said the initial plan was to start the NPTs in April to target the long rains. However, due to the delay in approval, some areas including Kampi ya Mawe, Katumani and Matuga may miss out due to erratic weather condition.
Mr. Rajeev Arora, Advisor, Textile Value-chain for Kenya and Chair Bt. Cotton Taskforce at the Ministry of Industry Trade and Cooperatives, said before planting NPTs that had been proposed to commence in April 2018 will now be conducted in six sites due to the delay.
He added that the team appointedin 2017 together with the Agriculture, Food Authority (AFA) has developed a cotton revitalization roadmap with conventional hybrid seed initiative which will then be followed by Bt Cotton.
“A total of 20 counties have been mapped out as potential areas for revitalization of cotton production with a total of 200,000 hectares,” he said.
Arora noted that sensitization programs and activities are also ongoing with support from different development partners.
The impact of Cotton revitalization, Arora said is to increase cotton production from the current 5,500 tons to 50,000 tons in the next five years.
“The plan is to initially develop cotton using hybrids and conventional seeds and by 2019 to grow Bt cotton after its commercialization which will have three times production yield compared to present conventional varieties,” Arora said, adding that total production will be done in over 200,000 hectares land in the five years.
-Written by Wangari Ndirangu in Kenya News Agency. See original article link here.