To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

March 08, 2011

Kenya in spotlight as more nations turn to GM foods

by Allan Odhiambo

Policy implementers are expected to come under renewed pressure over the use of genetically modified foods in Kenya, following a steady rise in the volume of crops produced using the technology in key food source markets.


New data by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Application (ISAAA) shows that in South Africa, which currently ranks as Kenya’s main source of imported maize, farmland under GMO crops increased to 2.3 million hectares in the 2010/11 season from 2.16 million hectares in the preceding season.


The ISAAA said the land cultivated for GMO maize in South Africa was 1.9 million hectares, while genetically modified soya beans were produced on 390,000 hectares and cotton on 15,000 hectares.


Statistics further show that overall, the tillage of biotech crops had exceeded one billion hectares by 2010, just 15 years after GMO crops were commercialised worldwide.


“The government will have to take action sooner rather that later because the growing influence of GMOs is real. It can partially open windows for GMO products as more assessment into the probable effects is done,” said an expert, John Njoroge.


According to the Economic Survey 2010, Kenya’s imports from South Africa rose significantly from Sh46.69 billion in 2008 to Sh70.56 billion, mainly on the account of maize valued at Sh23.63billion compared to Sh5.5billion realised the previous year.


Kenya did not import maize from South Africa last year, thanks to a bumper harvest of 36 million bags that are expected to keep the country going until August.


A projected dry spell over the first half of this year is however expected to affect production, placing the country on the path of possible importation from countries such as South Africa that are going big on GMOs.


Kenya is yet to embrace the GMO concept even though an Act guiding the legal and legislative frameworks on modern biotechnology is already in place. The Biosafety Act 2009 was approved by President Mwai Kibaki in February this year with the National Biosafety Committee as an interim measure until the biosafety law is implemented.


Analysts said the increasing dominance of GMO crops in the international market is likely to push Kenya into accepting the technology, albeit partially, or risk costly import bills whenever production deficits occurred locally.


At the peak of the famine in 2009, the then Agriculture minister William Ruto went public in support of GMOs, saying the global dominance by GM maize was frustrating efforts to import the grain from key international markets to cover for local production deficit.


Several regional countries are already working towards the adoption of GMOs as part of a strategy to boost their food security levels.


Some advocacy groups are opposed to the adoption of the GMO technology in Kenya.

In April 2010 one the groups, Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, kicked off a storm when it claimed the South African government had authorised a firm to export 240,000 tonnes of GM maize into Kenya. The group also claimed that commodity trader Louis Dreyfus had a further 40,000 tonnes already held up in Mombasa. The government denied the allegations.


Business Daily Africa

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP