Governors fault green light on GMO, demand farmers involvement

A section of governors has faulted the procedure the government took to lift the ban on genetically modified organism (GMO) crops in Kenya, saying it was hurried with no consultation.

Addressing the press in Bungoma the Council of Governors’ Agriculture Committee Chairperson Kenneth Lusaka said the proposal by the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization to import and avail to the Kenyan Market GMO Maize puts Kenyan farmers at a disadvantaged position as they will not be able to sell their maize 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,” Lusaka said.

He pointed out that this was a result of the 16 million (90kg) bags to be harvested from the 2022 rain crops in South Rift, North rift,Nyanza, and parts of Western counties and 1.5 million bags import from the EAC region by the private sector.

Lusaka added that the Council of Governors proposes a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and industrialization to discuss the matter to ensure our farmers are well compensated for their yields.

His sentiments were supported by his Environment and Climate Change counterpart Wilber Otichilo.

Their views come amid plan by Members of Parliament to impeach Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.

MPs from Maize growing areas have begun the process of collecting signatures to initiate the removal of  Kuria for allowing the importation of the stable.

The threat to impeach Kuria followed last week’s announcement that he will be issuing a gazette notice to allow the importation of duty-free maize.

The governors are now demanding that the National Government through NCPB makes available resources to purchase all the maize held by farmers before any importation is granted.

Lusaka noted that while COG appreciates the Government’s vacation on the ban on GMOs in an effort to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of production as well as reduce the cost of food to consumers, 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,” Lusaka said.

He added that the Committee should incorporate, farmers, academia and other interested parties to enhance transparency and information sharing on GMOs.

The council also took issue with the uprooting of eight 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,”Lusaka said.

He 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,” Lusaka said.

He said the County Government of Kilifi is putting in place policies and legal frameworks to ensure Baobab and other indigenous tree species are protected.

The County Government has commenced public awareness on the need for full disclosure when approached by investors seeking to achieve interests that may not fall within the National and County aspirations

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