Biotech Updates

Malawi's Seed Sector Calls on Govt to Adopt GM Crops

May 25, 2016

Malawi's seed sector has called on the Government to consider genetically modified drought tolerant maize to counter the food shortages caused by frequent droughts in the country. The Government was also requested to fast-track the commercialization of insect resistant (Bt) cotton whose confined field trials (CFTs) have been concluded. The seed sector stakeholders were speaking during an agri-biotech and biosafety sensitization meeting that was organized by the Seed Trade Association of Malawi (STAM), African Seed Trade Association (AFSTA) and ISAAA AfriCenter, on May 20, 2016, in Lilongwe, Malawi. ISAAA Brief 51: 20th Anniversary (1996-2015) of the Global Commercialization of Biotech Crops and Biotech Crop Highlights in 2015  was launched during this event and was presented by Mr. Paul Chege of ISAAA AfriCenter.

Participants, who included seed traders, researchers and journalists agreed that use of outdated farming methods is responsible for Malawi's low agricultural production. "To adopt the emerging technologies, our population must agree to radically change their attitudes," said the guest of honor and STAM's Board Chair, Mr. John Lungu. He challenged journalists to give prominence to agricultural biotechnology stories as this will spur interest and create awareness.

Mr. Lungu lauded researchers for initiating and conducting GM crop trials in Malawi. While the Bt cowpea CFT continues, plans are underway to setup a ‘bunchy-top' virus resistant banana trial. Bt cotton will soon move to open-release cultivation in national performance trials. "The efforts by researchers have put Malawi on the map as one of the countries gearing towards commercialization of biotech crops," said Prof. James Bokosi, the Bt cotton project Principal Investigator.

For more on this, contact Mr. Supply Chisi of STAM at