Kenya’s First Crop of GMO Bt Insect-Resistant Cotton Ready for Harvest

The anticipated harvest of the cotton by farmers in Embu and Kirinyaga in September this year is expected to boost the dormant ginneries in the region. After waiting for nearly two decades for the commercialization of BT cotton, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel, as the farmers prepare for the harvest before the end of the year. Charles Waturu, the Principal Researcher on the BT cotton said the government has already trained 50,000 youths and women who are being involved in the production of the crop and consequently, establish five million square feet of industrial sheds. Waturu said the research on BT cotton was conceptualized in 2001 to address the need to manage the most damaging cotton pest African bollworm.

Farmers in the lower Mwea have been able to produce yields, three times more than the conventional varieties and have taken a shorter time of between 130 to 180 days to mature. The commercialization process Waturu said started in 2011 culminating in a conditional approval from National Biosafety Authority in 2016 to Monsanto Company who owns the BT technology.

Waturu said the project targets again to provide the seeds to 1000 farmers throughout the country come September this year. Whereas, Magondu said they are grateful to the government for providing free seeds for the farmers, which made many of them go for farming.

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