Following Kenya’s recent approval of GMO insect-resistant cotton, veteran maize and cotton farmer Daniel Magondu penned this letter to the nation’s president, expressing his gratitude and explaining the significance of the decision.
Dear Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya,
The Society for Biotech Farmers of Kenya (SOBIFAK) wishes to convey its most sincere gratitude to you and your Cabinet for your bold step to approve commercial farming of Bt cotton. SOBIFAK is a registered national farmers’ association that advocates for incorporation of new biotechnology tools – including genetically modified (GM) crops – into Kenya’s agricultural system with the aim of increasing production and improving farmers’ livelihoods.
Your Excellency, the approval is a monumental decision that signals the beginning of an end to cotton farmers’ misery in the face of pest infestations. These woes have had a ripple effect on cotton prices and national priorities on cotton farming.
For cotton farmers, adverse effects of pests on farming are so loud that the crop’s production has nosedived significantly owing to the emergence of the African bollworm that has wreaked havoc in what was once considered Kenya’s white gold.
The infestation by the bollworm has continually ravaged conventional varieties causing devastating losses to farmers and rendering them poor and desolate. According to scientists, the vicious African bollworm can cause a damage of up to 90% of bolls when untreated.