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September 12, 2011

Zimbabwe farmers urged to take up cultivation of GM crops

Zimbabwean farmers have been urged to go for genetically modified seed to increase yield per hectare.

The call was made at the just-ended Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union 71st congress held in Harare last week. The two-day congress, held under the theme “Biotechnology, Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture," questioned the wisdom behind local farmers’ reluctance to use GMOs when the country had been importing these from neighbouring countries at low prices.

The congress heard that farmers the world over were now using genetically modified seed which had seen their yields increase per hectare compared to those still resisting the move.

Addressing farmers at the congress, governor and minister Aeneas Chigwedere said the fear of the unknown had forced local farmers to continue incurring high costs of production as they shunned GMO seed. He said there was a misplaced belief that the use of genetically modified seed would harm people who consumed the products.

“We have heard stories that if one eats GMOs, one will develop horns or die. These beliefs should be dismissed as GMO seed has been used by our neighbours whose yield has increased from a mere two tonnes to 10 tonnes and above per hectare,’’ said Chigwedere.

He said countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, started using GMO seed way back in 1999. This had seen that country’s farmers increasing their food output per hectare, resulting in Zimbabwe importing the same food products at lower prices than the locally produced commodities.

Chigwedere said local farmers had continued to incur high production costs as it was difficult to increase their yield per hectare.


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