Kenya has approved the growing of genetically modified cotton in the country following the successful completion of field trials that were conducted over a period of five years.
In a Cabinet meeting chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, commercial farming of BT cotton is set to ensure farmers earn more from the crop through increased production.
“It will also boost the manufacturing pillar of the Big 4 Agenda where Kenya seeks to establish itself as a regional leader in textile and apparel production,” said State House in a statement.
Trials of the Bt cotton have been conducted at Kenya Agricultural, Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)’s research center at Mwea in central Kenya.
Currently, the country produces an average of 25,000 bales against a demand of 200,000 bales of lint, with a deficit covered through imports from Uganda, Tanzania, and the Far East to support export processing Zone (EPZ).
According to fiber crop directorate, the country has about 50,000 farmers growing cotton who are only able to produce 30,000 bales against an annual demand of 368,000 bales
The farmers are only able to utilize 10.04 percent of 384,500 hectare in the country suitable for cotton growing producing 572 kilograms per hectare.
In June, President Uhuru Kenyatta commissioned the Ultra-Modern Rivatex East Africa Limited Textile Production Plant and the Moi University Technologies Digital Assembly Plant in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.
The meeting further approved the coming into operation of the New Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) as well as the immediate operationalisation of the Coffee Cherry Advance Revolving Fund.