Biotech Updates

Malawi Approves Confined Field Trials of Transgenic Bananas

March 9, 2016

The Malawi National Biosafety Regulatory Committee (NBRC) recently approved confined field trials for Banana on 26th February 2016. This comes soon after NRBC approved confined field trials for insect (Maruca) resistant cowpea, on 14th January 2016.

Banana is an important food crop in Malawi and is among the most affordable fruits in the country. However, farmers have been suffering heavy losses due to banana bunchy top virus which has invaded all the major production areas. As a result, Malawi has been importing bananas from Mozambique and Tanzania to meet country's demand.

The confined field trials will be conducted by Bvumbwe Research Station of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for three years, from 2016 to 2018. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security officials, transgenic banana planting materials will be introduced from Australia, and tested in the CFTs for resistance against bunchy top virus.

The first confined field trial (CFT) in Malawi was conducted on cotton by the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Sciences (LUANAR) to test the efficacy of the Bt gene in conferring resistance from bollworm. The tests have lasted over a period of four years in CFTs and Multi Locational Trials and have been successful.

For more information on the trials, contact Boniface Mkoko at