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Agriculture agency backs growing of GMO cotton


A cotton farmer in Kisumu County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has supported adoption of genetically modified cotton in Kenya, saying it could increase production threefold and create up to 600,000 jobs in farms and apparel factories.

In its latest bulletin for the second quarter, AFA says Kenya must establish a farm-to-factory supply chain for local cotton while discouraging import of finished textile products.

“Kenya must improve governance in the import rules for textile products to cushion local producers as well as give incentives to investors to build modern ginneries and textile manufacturing plants. We need to train 50,000 youths and women as skilled professionals for the industrial textile production units,” said the agency.

The genetically modified cotton, commonly known as BT Cotton, is currently undergoing national field trials, a crucial step ahead of commercialisation since it will help researchers develop region-specific seed materials that would later be multiplied for sale to farmers.

The State agency said such measures would increase revenue from textile industry from the current Sh35 billion to Sh200 billion by 2022.

The AFA also called for export of finished products as opposed to raw materials such as unprocessed tea, coffee and fruits by establishing local factories for value addition which could create 200,000 jobs.

Kenya exports a paltry 16 per cent of processed products mainly within the region and to the Far East.

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