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Officials hint at biotech cotton nod

Betty Maina
Industrialisation PS Betty Maina. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

The government has given the clearest indication yet of adoption of Genetically Modified cotton to boost President Kenyatta’s agenda 4, following a site visit of the ongoing field trials.

Two principal secretaries from the Ministry of Industrialisation and Agriculture said the adoption of the cotton will play a significant role in improving the ailing textile industry and cutting imports of the produce.

Manufacturing is one of the areas that have been prioritised by the government under the agenda 4 and Mr Kenyatta has called for revival of the cotton sector.

Trade and Industrialisation PS Betty Maina attributed the textile sector’s downturn to use of seed varieties that yield poor production.

“From what we have seen here today it’s evident that we have to adopt this technology to revive the industry with the view of achieving the President’s agenda 4,” said Ms Maina.

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“Farmers are stuck because of poor technology and that is why they are not producing much from their crop,” she added.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said the industry can only be successful with adoption of cotton with superior genetics.

“Agriculture is driven by genetics and we can only achieve good production with the adoption of seed that have superior genetics,” said Prof Boga.

The two spoke Tuesday when they visited government owned research institute in Mwea where national performance trials for BT cotton are ongoing.

These are the first trials in the country with the current crop ready for harvesting. The second round of trials will be conducted in the next rainy season after which the relevant government agencies will evaluate the performance to ascertain if they possess the attributes that scientists have said.

The PSs said the decision to adopt BT cotton will be made after the second season of trials expected to start next year March.

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