Biotech Updates

Togolese and Benin Policy Makers Tour Bt Cotton Fields

January 8, 2014

Policy makers, regulators, and farmers from Togo and Benin have recently completed a visit to Burkina Faso's Bt cotton fields. The African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE/NEPAD) and partners organized the tour, to provide them with a learning experience on Bt cotton farming, commercialization, and legislation in Burkina Faso.

The visits included tours to farmers' fields where participants learnt of the benefits farmers have realized from Bt cotton farming. "Bt cotton requires only two pesticide treatments whereas conventional cotton requires 7 to 8 treatments" said Phillippe Tamini, a farmer with 28 hectares of Bt cotton, who was glad of the much reduced labor. "I make around 5 to 6 million CFA Francs each year with Bt cotton. This year, I expect to get a yield of 1 to 2 tons of cotton per hectare", added Mr. Tamini.

During the visits, organizers also provided participants with a platform to interact with researchers, policy makers, and regulators. "We have been organizing similar visits for Burkinabe members of parliament. This year, we have decided to extend the invitation to our neighboring countries, at their own demand," said Mr. Moussa Sawadogo, the Environmental biosafety program officer at ABNE. "Togo is revising its Biosafety law, whereas Benin which has just lifted a moratorium on GM products is interested in exploring the potential advantages that can be brought about by biotechnology to their own country," added Mr. Sawadogo.

Participants appreciated the lessons learnt during the visit and were determined to apply them in their respective countries, where cotton is a crop of high interest. "As legislators we are usually in the dark when it comes to intricacies involved in biotechnology and biosafety matters. As a result we have not been able to take prompt decision and are now late on Biotechnology. But with the information gathered in this tour, we can make things move faster, by working towards revising our biosafety law in order to facilitate the adoption of biotechnology" said Agbo Komlan, member of parliament in Togo.

For more information on the study tour, contact Prof. Diran Makinde, the director of the African Biosafety Network of Expertise at .