NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyan farmers are banking on biotech cotton in order to revive
the once booming sector.
Society for Biotech Farming (KNSBF) chairman Daniel Mugo Magondu
said farmers have abandoned the cash crop in droves in favor of
other crops due to declining returns.
Magondu said the
decline in production is largely to the uncontrolled pest
bollworm has made cotton farming unprofitable because it can
result in 100 percent loss of harvest if unchecked,” Magondu
told Xinhua in a recent interview.
He noted that on
average farmers can only achieve a yield of 580 kilogrammes per
hectare against a potential of 2500 kg/ha.
indicates that in 2016 Kenya produced about 30,000 bales from a
high of 70,000 in the 1980s.
Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization and Monsanto
are currently developing a genetic modified cotton variety that
is resistant to the African bollworm.
The researchers have
successfully completed Confined Field Trials and have applied to
the authorities to conduct the National Performance Trials for
two planting seasons before it can be released to farmers.
However, in 2012
Kenya banned the importation and commercialization of GMOs.
Magondu said that
the ban will have to be lifted before farmers can cultivate the
The chairman noted
that farming of conventional cotton varieties requires spraying
of pesticides at least 12 times before harvesting.
“This increases the
cost of production of the crop to an extent that farmers have
decided to abandon the crop,” he added. However, the GMO cotton
will only require three applications of pesticides to control
Magondu noted that
the commercialization of genetically engineered cotton will help
to reverse the dwindling fortunes of the once vibrant crop that
was a mainstay in the arid regions of the country.
He noted that out of
the 22 ginneries in the country only five are operational due to
lack of cotton for processing.