Kenya launches commercial growing of genetically modified cotton

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NAIROBI, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ministry of agriculture on Friday launched the commercial growing of genetically modified cotton (GM) after conducting trials in the past five years.

Peter Munya, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives said that the move will revitalize the cotton value chain and the textile industry in the country.

"This indeed is a historic milestone for Kenya's agricultural sector, particularly the textile industry," said Munya.

He said the journey towards the commercialization of the genetically modified cotton variety has been accompanied by several hiccups that were later overcome.

Munya said that delay in commercializing the seed has been delayed by misunderstanding, suspicion and a deliberate campaign to discredit the benefits to be derived from actualizing its production.

"With commercial production of cotton, Kenya has the potential of joining the big textile league and improving the livelihoods for millions of people who will be engaged directly and indirectly in the value chain," said Munya.

He said that a thriving cotton and textile industry is necessary for the socio-economic development of any country.

The cabinet secretary said the government has procured the genetically modified cotton seeds and pesticides that will be distributed to 23 counties for facilitating commercial production.

"We have already secured 16.3 metric tons of GM cotton seed for planting during the October/November season in the eastern region of the country," said Munya.

He said the government is already negotiating for trade agreements in the cotton value chain as part of promoting the growing of the crop in the country.

Munya said the government in collaboration with stakeholders is undertaking a range of policy and regulatory interventions geared towards revitalizing the cotton sub-sector.

"We have a great responsibility for ensuring that we will have the capacity to satisfy the requirements of these expansive markets once they are secured, "said Munya.

Kenya launched the process of testing the GM cotton seeds for commercialization in March, and thereafter established 700 demonstration plots in five cotton growing zones in the country.

African countries including Chad, Burkina Faso, Benin and Mali have invested heavily in the textile industry with their textile exports accounting for 30 to 50 percent of total exports. Enditem

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