Feed processors get nod to import GMO yellow maize


Yellow maize being offloaded at Mombasa port. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Animal feed manufacturers have been allowed to import yellow maize with minimal GMO content as the government moves to tame escalating prices of commodities used to raise farm animals.

The Ministry of Agriculture has reduced the level of yellow maize purity from genetically modified organisms (GMO) to 99.1 percent from the previous 100 percent.

There is an ongoing debate about the safety of GMO crops which has several advantages such as resistance to drought, pests, and higher yields.

The change in the GMO policy is set to be gazetted this week. The price of a 70-kilogramme bag of dairy meal has gone up from Sh2,500 in August last year to Sh3,400, chick marsh is retailing at Sh4,200 from Sh3,250 while layers is now selling at Sh3,800 from Sh3,100.

“In the light of the ongoing drought and a shortage of feeds, we have decided to review the framework on importation of yellow maize by lowering the requirements to 99.1 percent GMO-free,” said Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai.

The GMO-free directive had seen millers fail to ship in even a single bag of yellow maize, citing difficulty in sourcing the commodity without a trace of the offending modifications.

Kenya is yet to lift the 2012 ban on imports of GMO products in the country. Mr Kimtai also said that feed manufacturers have been allowed to import GMO cotton seed cake from any part of the world to boost the production of feeds in the country.

Cottonseed cake, together with other ingredients like sunflower cake, which are key protein supplements have been in a short supply not only locally but also in the regional market where Kenya sources most of its stocks.

Millers had written to the government last month wanting it to review the requirement in order to allow traders to ship in the produce.

The decision to allow yellow maize imports followed a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Treasury and Agriculture Ministry to come up with a measure to tame the high cost of feeds.

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