Farmers in Kenya have been harvesting an average of 5,300 tonnes lint of cotton against a demand of about 38,000 tonnes with the deficit being imported from neighboring countries.
However, in December 2019, the Cabinet approved controlled farming of GMO cotton for commercial purposes following successful field trials conducted over a period of five years.
The government in March last year identified 1,000 farmers in six counties to receive the country’s first GMO cotton seeds.
The target is to have about 200,000 farmers involved in commercial production of GMO cotton by the year 2022 and grow production 10 times from the current 20,000 bales to 200,000 bales of cotton.
Farmers are tipped to harvest and earn more from GMO cotton which is said to have a high germination rate, early maturation, and resistance to common pests, while millers are assured of high quality lint.
GMO cotton is currently planted in 15 countries globally on land measuring 24 million hectares.
The top three leading GMO cotton producers are India on 11.6 million hectares, USA has 5.06 million hectares and China on 2.93 million hectares.
In Africa, Kenya has joined six countries namely South Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria and eSwatini who grow GMO cotton.