GMO cotton seed shortage hits farmers


Dr. Roy Mugiira, acting chief executive officer of the National Biosafety Authority. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Cotton farmers have been hit by a delay in the supply of Genetically Modified (GMO) seeds for planting the first crop of 2022 in what could hurt largescale adoption.

Farmers were to start planting early this month.

Roy Mugiira, the acting chief executive officer of the National Biosafety Authority - sector regulator- attributed the delay to multiplication challenges experienced by the sole company given the task.

The role of supplying seed was awarded to an Indian-based conglomerate Mahyco, which is the only firm with rights to do the distribution locally.

“The challenge that we are having now is seed multiplication, but I think that is being addressed by the authorities,” said Mr Mugiira.

“Farmers should be doing the second crop this main season but they do not have seed to plant,” he added.

President Uhuru Kenyatta approved the planting of GMO cotton in 2018 under open field cultivation while commercialisation started in 2020 as the government sought to increase production of the crop to spur manufacturing, which is one of the items in the Big4 Agenda.

Ms Winnie Mucea, a farmer in Kitui said the lack of seed had forced them to skip one season.

Ms Mucea who leads a group of 40 farmers said they received the last batch of seeds way after the season was over.

“What we got was not even sufficient to cover all our members,” said Ms Mucea.

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