GM Maize
Trade CS Moses Kuria.

Just over a month after Kenya approved the commercialization of gene edited maize, Trade Cabinet Secretary has stepped in allowing the import of GM maize to stem prevailing shortage in bid to fight ongoing famine.

On Thursday, Trade CS Moses Kuria said the country will allow the import of GM maize into the country for a period of six months.

“In view of the food situation in the country, I shall be signing instruments to allow duty free imports of GMO and non GMO maize for the next six months,” Mr Kuria said on Twitter.

At the moment, over four million Kenyans in roughly 25 counties are grappling with inadequate supply of food due the worst drought in 40 years following successive seasons of failed rains.

The prices of maize floor, a staple food for millions of people, has remained out of reach for many and the months ahead looks gloomy following prediction by the weatherman that the country will experience poor October – December rainfall.

Read also: Kenya signs deal to set up green fertiliser factory by 2025

Kenya’s food shortages have been blamed on overreliance on rain-fed agriculture, sky-high cost of inputs such as seeds and fertilizer as well as inefficiencies along the value chain.

In October, President William Ruto pledged to avail six million bags of subsidized fertiliser as his new administration moves to stem rising cost of production targeting the long rains season that runs between mid-March and June in many parts of the country.

Some 1.5 million 50kg bags of fertiliser has already been imported and distributed at a cost of Kes3,500 per bag. Previously, the cost had skyrocketed to over Kes7,000 for a 50-kg bag.

In October, the Cabinet approved the commercialization of genetically modified maize (GM), giving farmers the signal to start open cultivation and importation of the grain in efforts to help revamp agricultural production and manufacturing industries.

The Cabinet decision saw Kenya join South Africa, Sudan, Egypt, and Burkina Faso which had earlier commercialized the growing of GM crops ranging from maize, sorghum, cowpea, cotton and soybean crops.

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