Kenya has not allowed the importation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods into the country, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mwangi Kiunjuri has said.
Speaking on Monday at Katumani Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KARLO) centre, the CS also refuted claims that the scientifically produced foods were already in the country as claimed by a section of Kenyans.
Kiunjuri who was inspecting a new plant for producing Aflasafe to help fight aflatoxin in maize said the government was currently embarking on technological advancement to fight diseases.
“The government has not authorized the growing or the importation of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) maize in the country. Instead our focus is to come up with mechanisms that will help us address food shortage through encouraging farmers to divert to water fed agriculture and planting fast maturing food crops,” he said.
The Ministry of Health has been opposing commercialization of GMOs arguing that the country cannot guarantee their safety.
And in an ongoing World Health Organization member states peer evaluation, Kenya has scored poorly in her capacity to prevent, detect and respond to GMO related public health emergencies.
The CS who was accompanied by the KARLO Director General, Eliud Kireger said scientists across the country were working on developing a new variety of maize seed that can mature within 105-110 days instead of the normal 120 days.
Kinjuri said the government was also encouraging farmers to construct simple reservoirs in their farms for harvesting rain water to enable them carry out farming even in the event of water shortage.
“We encourage farmers living in dry areas to adopt the practice of harvesting rain water during the ongoing rains. With such reservoirs famers can collect more than 1000m3 of water which is enough to undertake substantial irrigation especially in the dry areas,’’ he added.
About the new Aflasafe modular manufacturing plant which is expected to be opened later this month by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kiunjuri said evaluation on its success will depend on demand of the product by farmers after fungicide is introduced in the market.
The CS however, said the plant which has a capacity to produce 10 tons of Aflasafe daily could well scale up its production to 40 tons in coming days.
By Peter Nzioki/Josephine Meli