Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has instructed key government ministries to identify mechanisms for reviving the nation’s cotton production, which could include growing the genetically modified Bt cotton.
The announcement follows the government’s approval last summer of an environmental assessment that authorized the national performance trials that are required prior to commercial release of Bt cotton. The Kenyan government, in collaboration with farmers, planted the pest-resistant Bt cotton in field trials last June, marking a milestone in a 15-year research effort.
One of the biggest holdups to the advancement of biotechnology in Kenya has been the absence of political good will. But the performance trial approval and President’s speech seem to signal a shift.
“Cotton farming was once a major source of income and livelihood for many people in the region,” Kenyatta said in an Oct. 20 speech in Western Kenya during Mashujaa Day celebrations – a public holiday to honor Kenyans who have contributed in the struggle of independence. “As such, I have instructed the ministries of health, agriculture, and trade, industry, and cooperatives to work together and come up with a quick mechanism to revive the production of cotton, including the possibility of farming Bt cotton.” Read more