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GMO crops solution for food security

As we envision manufacturing and processing, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) remains crucial in unraveling our economy as the institutions are tasked with provision of relevant and qualified human resources to turn around our economy.

Principal Secretary, State Department for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Dr Margaret Mwakima chaired the 11th International Research conference at Eldoret National Polytechnic that brought researchers, innovators, technology advancement, policy and strategy makers on matters of sustainable development.

Dr Mwakima noted that one of the thematic areas of focus and interest in innovation and technology is agriculture for food security in this nation.

“We are at dispensation period where we are faced with global challenges of climate change, water scarcity, and soil infertility therefore as researchers we need to provide solutions to be able to ensure that we have food security, and be able to get innovations for us to be able to industrialize the nation and get into manufacturing economy,” Mwakima said.

She said most parts of the country are becoming drier and the soils have been depleted of nutrients and the solution to ensure that the country is able to get resilience and adaptability is Genetically Modified Food (GMO) which has been introduced.

GMO food now legal in Kenya after the Cabinet lifted the ban on growing and importation of genetically modified food and animal feeds, including white maize.

Mwakima therefore expressed hope that the GMO will offer several advantages such as higher yields and resistance to droughts and pests, this is why the government has turned to GMO crops in the hope that they will result in bigger harvests.

“Our focus as TVET in to invest more resources in Bio-technology and research to be able to get our trainees who can inform the technology in terms of its establishment and sustainability,” she said.

The PS further noted that the risks that might come with it can be addressed with the various regulatory mechanism that we have put in place and one of them is the Bio Safety Authority (NBA), but globally before a biotech food is released into the market it is usually certified by World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) among others.

The chairman National Bio-Safety Authority (NBA) Dr Joseph Chavidia said, “Kenya has been reluctant to approve the import and planting of biotech crops but the decision was long overdue as enough research has been done to enable us embrace GMO as it is safe and secure for consumption.”

Speaking about the potential benefits of the biotech crops, the chairman said, “We believe the lifting of the ban of GMO will go a long way in elevating our current food security problem, so we welcome the idea as we want to significantly redefine agriculture in our country and reduce its dependence on water intensive agriculture by planting crops that are drought resistant.

“We encourage Kenyans to embrace GMO, ultimately our aim is for us to get food to the table that is safe and free and improve the farmer’s economic status and to avoid the many perceived challenges,” he noted.

By Judy Too

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