Commodities

Cabinet GMO maize verdict expected June as trials end

BOGA

Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Prof Boga said the decision on commercialisation of GMO maize could be made as early as June this year, with the successful lifting of the ban likely to see farmers getting the improved seeds by December.
  • A memorandum will be sent to Cabinet after the findings on the last trials for either approval or rejection of the GMO seed.
  • The last stretch of the GM maize is currently ongoing in the fields led by Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation and the Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service.

All eyes are on the Cabinet as scientists finalise the trials on genetically modified (GMO) maize, with Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga expressing optimism that the government will approve commercialisation to increase yields.

Prof Boga said the decision on commercialisation of GMO maize could be made as early as June this year, with the successful lifting of the ban likely to see farmers getting the improved seeds by December.

A memorandum will be sent to Cabinet after the findings on the last trials for either approval or rejection of the GMO seed.

The last stretch of the GM maize is currently ongoing in the fields led by Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation and the Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service.

Speaking during an open field trial for Bt Maize in Thika, Prof Boga said the country was just a step away from commercialisation of the GMO Maize.

“We are making our case with the Bt Maize and it is evident you cannot compare this variety with the conventional one,” he said.

The release of biotech maize had been set for August 2016 where it was to undergo National Performance Trials before being commercialised. However, this decision was delayed after the Ministry of Health stopped the process.

If approved, Kenya will join South Africa which is currently the only country in the continent that has adopted and commercialised GMO Maize.

The PS said BT maize is expected to increase production from the current national average of 1.5 tonnes per hectare to an average of five tonnes for the same size, translating to over 80 million bags of maize annually from the current 42 million bags.