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Cotton farmers back GMO move

Cotton farmers in Homa Ba county have supported the move by the government to lift the ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The farmers led by Homa-Bay Cotton Cooperative Union Chairman John Akoko and Secretary Apiyo Oloo said they were hopeful of better yields with the use of genetically

modified seeds.

This follows a Cabinet resolution which approved the adoption and re-introduction of genetically modified organisms farming in the country after previous regimes outlawed the same citing health concerns.

The union officials said their members would start to use BT cotton variety which would translate to improved yields.

In Homa Bay, more than 1,400 farmers who grow the crop have started preparing to plant the new seed variety.

Akoko urged the Homa Bay county government department of agriculture to fast-track farmers access to the GMO seeds.

He said that they have started increasing acreages under the crop to maximize returns from the improved variety.

Akoko said all their members have agreed to grow the GMO variety in the coming season.

The Chairman said there was drastic reduction in the crop production in the current season because farmers did not get quality seeds.

“The seeds we received were not compatible with the climatic conditions in Homa Bay. The low quality seed has led to low production,” Akoko said.

Speaking to the press in Homa Bay town Thursday, the Chairman urged local farmers to adopt the transgenic cotton variety.

He expressed optimism that improved production of the crop would enable the government to install ginnery and eventually textile industry in the county.

“Many farmers had abandoned the crop due to losses related to its production. Supplying farmers with BT seeds will entice them to expand the acreage under the crop,” he said adding that more people were likely to join their organization due to prospects of higher returns.

Homa Bay is among the counties with good black cotton soil that supports the growth of the crop. Until the late 90s, the county had been the largest producer of good quality cotton in the country.

Jared Nyaguda, a cotton farmer expressed hopes that the GMO variety will transform the economic fortunes of residents.

“Growing cotton in Homa Bay has faced myriad challenges starting with poor quality to shortage of seeds. Providing us with BT seed will increase production,” he said.

By Davis Langat

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