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Farmers assured of availability of the BT cotton seeds

A section of  the Mwea BT Cotton field trials on Monday August 10, 2020 where the crop was experimented with Dr. Charles  Waturu as the lead Researcher. Photo by Irungu Mwangi/KNA.
A close up of a BT Cotton produce before it is shortly harvested from Mwea BT trial farms. Photo by Irungu Mwangi/KNA

Farmers  have been assured of the availability of the BT Cotton seed come the short rains, despite numerous challenges that Covid- 19 pandemic continue to pose in various sectors.

The  Crop  Scientist, Dr. Charles  Waturu  said even if planting of the seeds will be carried out in late October or November when the rains start or start subsiding, the crop would still perform as expected.

Dr. Waturu  who is also the lead Researcher for the BT cotton since 2001 said unlike the traditional variety that requires more rain, the new one has been proved to be drought resistant.

“The BT cotton is a unique crop in that it is drought resistant, early maturing and high yielding as compared to the old variety which we are replacing in an effort to revive the collapsed textile industry,” he said.

Speaking on Monday during an Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Kenya Science Café, the researcher  also said although there will still be unscrupulous traders  who will attempt to counterfeit the BT cotton seeds, measures have been put in place to protect the farmers.

Dr. Waturu, said once the BT cotton seed is rolled out, we will expect our farmers to ensure they acquire their seeds only from the authorised outlets whose products will be well packed and patented such that should be there a query such a dealer can be easily traced.

Waturu  said the hybrid seeds were not replantable once a farmer harvested his crop.

“If you replant what you have harvested from a BT cotton crop, then that is not a certified seed and will only give you deteriorating results and I urge farmers to be always going for quality seeds from recognized and authorized outlets like products from the Kenya Seed Company,” he stated.

He said germination gap for the old variety stands at 50 per cent while for the BT seed stands at 85 per cent hence no gaping required for the hybrid variety.

“Due to the many opportunities the new cotton variety will create farmers should embrace it once the roll out of the seeds was done,” Waturu said

He said the BT cotton has huge oil potential, cotton cake used as animal feed besides its high fabric quality.

“A country like India which is among those who farm the BT cotton in the world produces 1.5 million tons of cotton seed which it exports thereby earning huge profits in foreign exchange,” he said.

He cited China, India and the United States of America as currently leading in BT cotton production with 29 million hectares under the cultivation of the crop out of which 11.6 million hectares were in India alone.

By  Irungu  Mwangi

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