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August 02, 2011

Kenya urged to accept new technology to mitigate drought

by Catherine Karongo

Kenya has been challenged to embrace new technologies in order to avert the recurrent food crises.

This comes in the wake of a controversial debate on whether the country should allow import of genetically modified (GMO) maize.

Immediate former Vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Dr Akin Adesina said that the country should not run away from new scientific technologies that could improve food security.

“If you look at Kenya today, you always have a problem with drought in the north but if you have the power of science available to KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute), and they can actually get a gene that can impart drought tolerance into maize, why not? Obviously that is going to solve the problem but you need to have scientists that are well trained and let them make the decisions,” he said.

Dr Adesina who is also the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture in Nigeria said the solution to the current food crisis was through adoption of new innovations.

“In almost every technology, there are risks. Even life itself is a risk. You must be able to weigh the risks and the benefits to see whether the benefits far outweigh the risks,” he remarked.

In the past three weeks, there has been mixed reactions on an intended importation of genetically modified maize to deal with the current food crisis that has affected an estimated 3.5 million Kenyans.

“I think in this entire hullabaloo about GMO, people miss the real issue, that science has the power to do a lot,” Dr Adesina opined. “What we need to do in my view is not to run away from science but to look at it very critically in the context of the challenges of food security that we face and then use regulations to determine what comes into the country by assessing all the risks.”

Those for adoption of GMO in the country argue that it is a technology that has been tried and proven safe in other parts of the world, while those opposed term the technology as unsafe.

“We should not use emotion to determine what science is,” Dr Adesina said. “Africa cannot be the last in everything; we need to join the pack that uses science and technology to address food problems,” he proposed.

Capital FM

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