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Crop Biotech Update

Farmers and Experts Look Forward to Bt Cotton Adoption to Revive Textile Industry in Kenya

May 23, 2018

A cotton revival initiative in May 2017 noted that Kenya had poor cotton production due to lack of quality and sufficient inputs such as good seeds, among other factors. Thus, experts in the country recommend Bt technology as an answer to the country's shortage of cotton production.

According to Daniel Macondo, a cotton farmer and Chairperson of the Society of Biotech Farmers of Kenya, Bt technology and other plant breeding techniques can help them produce better seeds. Dr. Charles Waturu, Director of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation's (KALRO) Horticulture Research Institute in Thika, also stressed that Bacillus thuringiensis, the key source of insect resistance in Bt technology, has been used in biochemical insecticides for over 30 years.

The process does not change the other characteristics of the plant aside from enhancing the plant's ability to protect itself from pests. The efficacy of Bt as an insecticide is made stronger and effective when genetically engineered into the cotton plants, Dr. Waturu explained.

At present, KALRO and partners are conducting national performance trials of Bt cotton in nine areas in Kenya to facilitate its adoption in the future. "India, with its 11.6 million acres under Bt cotton, Pakistan with 2.9 million acres and Myanmar with 325,000 acres, among others, now have a more thriving textile sector, compared to Kenya's because of this technology," Dr. Waturu stressed.

Read the original article from the Daily Nation.