A leading agricultural biotechnologist Dr. Margaret Karambu has advised farmers to embrace the BT cotton technology to increase their income.
Karambu said farmers should now start buying the seeds which are readily available from Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO).
“You have all along been complaining that the traditional cotton you grow is un–economical due to massive destruction by pests and diseases but now through many years of technological research we have come up with BT cotton which is resistant to bollworms, high yielding, early maturing and needs less chemical sprays,” she said.
Speaking in Kirinyaga Dr. Karambu said it was not just a question of certified seeds but also proper crop husbandry if the farmers were to achieve economic gains from the venture.
The crop scientist who doubles up as the chairperson of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and Chief Executive Officer for the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), urged farmers to take the occupation seriously just like any other business.
“From now on you should view farming like any other economic activity meant to generate income and profit hence embracing these technologies we have since developed especially for the BT cotton whose demand is high at the market,” she said
Karambu also urged farmers to apply the right crop husbandly while venturing into BT farming since the factory which manufactures garments depends on high quality fiber.
She said bollworm infested cotton would always end up being rejected by ginneries; it only gives them poor quality fiber.
“In order to address all these shortcomings, the solution is to plant certified seeds, ensure proper soil nutrition and proper crop husbandly which will all add up to high yields and high earnings, “she told the farmers.
Karambu who was in the company of other crop scientists, BT cotton seed dealers, the Media and scholars identified a section of a BT cotton crop which had been planted on very poor soils resulting in underperformance .
The farmer who owned the piece of land admitted not to have fed the soils with the required ingredients leading to very poor yields.
“In an ideal situation, one BT cotton plant can produce up to 40 balls and this is what we are envisaging from our farmers who wish to venture into agri-business,” the researcher said.
At Kajiji village, a farmer who had planted the BT cotton on a small piece of land was commended by the team as his crop had been properly fed and subsequently yielded highly.
Karambu urged the farmers to seize the opportunity and plant the biotechnologically engineered crop immediately, whose fiber was of the highest quality as demanded by the Rivatex who are currently forced to import cotton from the neighboring countries.
By Irungu Mwangi