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July 19, 2011

Kenya: Leaders split on bid to import GM maize

Differences continued to emerge among leaders over whether Kenya should import genetically modified crops.

Medical assistant minister Kazungu Kambi and Belgut MP Charles Keter warned, “We do not want our people to eat GM maize because it has bad effects on their health. We totally are against it.”

However, Agriculture secretary Wilson Songa said, “The technology is coming, there is no stopping it,” he said. Dr Songa said maize production in the country would double if the country adopted GM crops.

“Before we fully introduce the crop, it will go through the necessary agro-research analysis through Kenya Agricultural Research Institute,” he said.

He argued that a farm with GM crop could produce as much as 40 to 50 bags of maize per acre unlike the current case where only 30 bags were produced.

Kenya produces about 32 million bags of maize yearly while the consumption has shot up to 38 million due to rise in population. The agriculture secretary noted that if the country adopted the technology, production would shoot up to about 64 million bags.

A 90kg bag of maize is currently going for Sh4,500, up from Sh1,200 three years ago.

Speaking during a Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security meeting at Intercontinental Hotel, Dr Songa said the country could not be competitive if it stuck to the old traditional methods of farming. He cited South Africa, where farmers used three to four pesticides on a GM crop while in Kenya farmers used more than 15 pesticides before a (non-GM)crop matured.

The Nation

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