- The experts have said most developed countries such as the US have embraced the use of bio-technology in food production.
- They said GMO technology helps to develop crops that are resilient to drought, pests and diseases.
A team of experts have sought to assure Kenyans that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption.
The experts have said most developed countries such as the US have embraced the use of bio-technology in food production.
While addressing a group of agricultural officers in Murang’a county, the experts emphasised that the use of bio-technology would help the country achieve food security that has been elusive for years.
Margaret Karembu, a director with International Service for Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, said bio-technology enhances food production as it enables crops to withstand challenges such as pests and insufficient rains.
It helps to develop crop varieties that are resilient especially now that climate change has led to reduced rainfall that continues to deal a blow to farmers each season, she added.
Karembu sought to allay fears by many Kenyans that Genetically Modified Organisms technology would result in production of unhealthy foodstuff saying the method has been in use for years in other countries.
She said about 94 per cent of farmers in the US now use biotechnology to produce food and that numerous countries in Europe have followed suit despite the fact that some European countries import organic foods from Africa.
She also cited the BT cotton variety that was introduced in the country in 2020 and is thriving in some parts of the country.
She said GMO foods have been scientifically proven to be safe and urged both farmers and consumers to embrace them.
“We have organised engagement forums with county governments to create awareness on issues related to best food production practices.”
“We are exploring best practices in biotechnology and organic farming with the aim of increasing food production in the country,” she said.
The experts are also engaging universities and farmers’ groups in a programme dubbed Africa Science Dialogue to champion for better farming practices.
“Adopting bio-technology will ensure our farmers are financially secure while providing food security to the country,” she said.
National Biosafety Authority CEO Dr Roy Mugiras said bio-technology has the capacity to give rise to innovations that would enhance food production.
Mugiras said players in the industry are vigilant and would not allow unsafe foodstuff to be produced through GMO technology.
“We once had BT maize in the country and it did very well as it would thrive even with minimal moisture and was resistant to diseases,” he said.
Murang’a Agriculture CEC Prof Kamau Kirangai said the county has plans to explore technology to boost food production in the semi-arid parts of the county.
He said about 70 per cent of residents depend on agriculture both directly and indirectly, and that the county administration has partnered with Murang’a University of Technology to undertake research on how to address various challenges facing farmers and boost production.
“We are exploring different ways of bolstering our food production to ensure each family is food secure,” he said.
In March this year, the county government adopted an agro-ecology policy that would promote the use of organic farming practices that would see farmers consume and export organic produces.
-Edited by SKanyara