Bt Cotton critical to achieving Kenya’s big four agenda

The Kenyan government is banking on the production of genetically modified cotton, expected to start in 2018, to generate more than Sh 50 billion in apparel export earnings and create more than 50,000 jobs as part of its economic revival plan.

As part of the country’s big four agenda, Kenya aims to increase the manufacturing sector’s share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 15 per cent by 2022, enhance food security, provide universal healthcare to all citizens and provide affordable and decent housing — by  constructing at least 500,000 affordable new houses by 2022.

Mr Rajeev Arora, an adviser on textile value chain at the Ministry of Industry and Trade and chairman of cotton task force, noted that Bt cotton will play an important role in the revival of the cotton industry in Kenya and complement Kenya’s big four agenda.

The revival of the cotton sector is expected to move GDP from 9% to 15% and contribute to government priorities.

Speaking during the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) luncheon on April 6 at Laico Hotel, Nairobi Mr Rajeev noted that the cotton task force was formed last year to ensure the implementation of a roadmap for the next five years.

“We have a plan to initially develop cotton using hybrids and conventional seeds and, by 2019, to grow Bt cotton after its commercialization, which will have three times production yield compared to present conventional varieties,” Mr Rajeev said.

Dr Roy Mugiira, director of technical services at National Council of Science and Technology (NACOSTI) added that adoption of Bt cotton will lead to increased production,  returns and improved livelihoods for Kenyan farmers.

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