biotech crops

Cultivation of biotech crops on increase despite challenges

Minister Christopher Kibanzanga (3rdL) holding a copy of the ISAAA report on the commercialization of Biotech crop’s globally in a group photo with a Cross Section of scientists during the Launch of the Report in Kampala on the immediate left is Dr. Faith Nguthi, Senior Programme Officer at ISAAA Africa centre based in Nairobi.

KAMPALA, Uganda-New report released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Application (ISAAA) has revealed   an increase in the cultivation of Biotech / GM crops globally an indicator that the world is appreciating the application of biotechnology. 

According to the report, Biotech crop planting in 2016 resumed on a high and adoption was at 185.1 million hectares worldwide with developed countries such as United States of America, Brazil leading with the high farmed hectares.

“The 185.1 million hectares of biotech crops were grown by 26 countries of which 19 were developing and 7 Industrial countries. Developing countries grew by 54% of the global biotech crop area compared to 46% for the industrial countries” Reads part of the 2016 Global status report on commercialization of Biotech Crops.

Assessing the performance on the African continent, Africa’s performance was very low because only four countries have adopted the application of Biotechnology in their farming system the rest have not yet developed the legal instrument which allows the application of biotechnology.

Dr. Faith Nguthi, senior programme officer at ISAAA Africa centre based in Nairobi    told Journalists in Kampala during the report launch that  by 2016 some African countries had placed GM crops  on  the market.

“Burkana Faso, Egypt  South Africa  and Sudan  However due to  temporary setback in Burkina faso and Egypt only South Africa and Sudan planted biotech crops  at 2.8 million hectares  the performance of south Africa is still excellent because it leads  the adaptation  of Biotech-crops on the African continent” She explained.

“Farmers from the African continent have adopted more on the growing of biotech maize soybean and cotton the total hectares production for the three crops increased up from 2.29 million hectares in2015 to 2.66 million hectares in2016.

However Nkuthi is optimistic that the total hectares under Biotech crops cultivation will increase more because other African countries are in the final stages to commence commercializing Biotech crops. Among the countries in the pipeline include Kenya Malawi and Nigeria which have transitioned from research to granting environmental releases approvals.

Launching the Report in Kampala, the Minister of state for Agriculture Christopher Kibanzanga said failure by some countries like Uganda to adopt Biotechnology in the Agriculture sector is big set back to the country’s Economy. The Minister said the sector is facing big challenge associated with  climate change this has affected the production of maize , Banana Cassava and other crops  but such challenges can be mitigated  by planting Biotech crops.

“Our scientist through the application of biotechnology have developed crop varieties which are resistant to droughts,, crops, diseases such cassava mosaic  and banana varieties  which can out stand banana wilt disease however  such varieties can’t be grown by our local farmers because of politician who have failed to pass the Biotechnology safety Bill” The Minister  said.

The Minister said once Uganda does not pass the Bill into Law Uganda will remain food Insecure and also dumping ground for GMO products since the country trades with Countries that have commercialized Biotech crops such as South Africa .He explained that the Bill which is under the floor of Parliament does not only focused at allowing the grow of GM crops but also regulates the application of such science in the country.

He assured the scientist that Government through cabinet and the ruling party legislators they are committed to see that the Bill is enacted into Law for the good of the Country.