Governors slam Gov't for lifting GMO ban, demand involvement of farmers
The Council of Governors (CoG) has faulted the manner in which the government lifted the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in Kenya., saying it was hurried and that stakeholders were not consulted.
Addressing the press in Bungoma on Wednesday, CoG’s Agriculture Committee Chairperson Governor Ken Lusaka said the proposal to import and avail GMO maize to the Kenyan market puts local farmers at a disadvantage since they will not be able to sell their products at a price commensurate to their production cost.
“The discussion of importation of GMO was premature as a report on the Maize Balance Sheet by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development projects a maize surplus of 19.1 million bags by end of December 2022,” said Lusaka.
The Bungoma Governor pointed out that this was a result of the 16 million (90kg) bags to be harvested from the 2022 long rains crops in South Rift, North Rift, Nyanza and parts of Western counties, as well as an additional 1.5 million bags imported from the EAC region by the private sector.
Governor Lusaka added that the CoG proposes a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization to discuss the matter so as to ensure Kenyan farmers are well compensated for their yields.
He demanded that the national government, through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), makes available resources to purchase all the maize held by farmers before any importation is granted.
The governor noted that while they appreciate the government’s vacation on the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) on October 3, 2022 in an effort to cushion Kenyans from high cost of production as well as reduce the cost of food to consumers and solve food insecurity in the country, it may not be the solution to food security challenges facing the country.
“The Council therefore proposes that the national and county governments form a joint technical committee to oversee the execution of the GMO ban lift,” said Lusaka.
He added that the committee should incorporate farmers, members of academia and other interested parties to enhance transparency and information sharing on GMO.
The council also took issue with the uprooting of 8 Baobab trees in Kilifi County, which they said goes against the national targets to increase the forest and tree cover, especially in coastal and dryland areas.
“It also goes against our legal and policy stand to conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources,” said Lusaka.
The Bungoma County boss added that the ecological value of the Baobab tree outweighs the intended purpose of the uprooting.
“In light of the above, the Council of Governors has held consultations with the County Government of Kilifi and wishes to inform members of the public that the following corrective measures have been initiated; No further felling of Baobab trees will be undertaken since a stop order was issued,” he noted.
He said that the Kilifi County government is putting in place policy and legal frameworks to ensure Baobab and other indigenous tree species are protected.
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