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February 27th, 2017 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Margaret Karembu, Director of International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, writes: “I grew up in rural Africa, in Central Kenya, in a small village deep down the slopes of Mt Kenya called Gaikundo. For most parts of the year, it was a struggle putting food on the table for our family of 12 and those in the neighborhood. I now know we practiced subsistence farming or what European “greens” have fashionably coined ‘agro-ecology family farming’. This is the type of farming in which farmers focus on growing enough food to feed themselves and their families within their localized ecosystem. The output is mostly for local requirements with little or no surplus to take to the market.

For many of the villagers, we hardly produced adequately to last to the next harvest. Seeds were exchanged freely or barter-traded. It was worse for vegetatively-propagated staple crops— bananas, sweet potato and cassava where, exchanging planting material also meant transferring diseases and pests of mother plants from one neighboring farm to another. Seed systems and hybrid seeds were only slowly being introduced. The majority of farmers were locked up in unsustainable food production modes that further perpetuated the poverty cycle.

That was 50 years ago. Now, farmer practices are beginning to modernize—but we are facing political opposition, mostly from other countries, who seem determined to prevent Africa from joining in a global agricultural revolution.” See more