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Governors want lifting of ban on GMO reviewed

CoG Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee Kenneth Lusaka. [File, Standard]

The Council of Governors (CoG) has faulted the manner in which the State lifted the ban on genetically modified organism (GMO) maize.

They said the decision was hurried and that they were never consulted.

Addressing the press in Bungoma, CoG Chairperson of the Agriculture Committee Kenneth Lusaka and his Environment and Climate Change counterpart Wilber Otichilo said the proposal by the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation to import GMO maize puts farmers in a disadvantaged position as they will not be able to sell their maize at a price that is 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.

Mr Lusaka said this was a result of the 16 million (90kg) bags to be harvested from the 2022 long rains in South Rift, North Rift, Nyanza and parts of Western counties and 1.5 million bags imported from the EAC region by the private sector.

He said the CoG proposes a meeting with both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation to discuss the matter to ensure farmers are well compensated for their effort.

Mr Lusaka demanded that the State, through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), makes available resources to purchase all the maize held by farmers before any importation is allowed.

The governors’ lobby also took the issue of the uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County which they said goes against the national targets to increase forest cover, especially in coastal and dryland areas. [Robert Amalemba]

 “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 utilisation of genetic resources,” said Lusaka.

 The governor said while they appreciate the government ban lift on GMOs on October 3, 2022, to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of production as well as reduce the cost of food to consumers and solve food insecurity in the country, this may not be the solution to food insecurity in 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, academia and other interested parties to enhance transparency and information sharing on GMOs.

The council also took the issue of the uprooting of baobab trees in Kilifi County which they said goes against the national targets to increase forest 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 utilisation of genetic resources,” said Lusaka.

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 the public that the following corrective measures have been initiated,” said Lusaka.

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.