Agriculture expert says Bt- Cotton has led to increased yields


A senior lecturer of Biotechnology at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Abel Sefasi says Malawi cotton farmers are benefiting from genetically modified variety Bt-cotton as it has improved farmers’ yields.

According to Sefasi, since the introduction of of Biotech cotton, the yields for farmers who adopted the seed have increased to 800 kilograms per hectare from 400 kilograms per hectare and this is a big improvement.

“90 percent of the cotton that we have was produced through this technology and farmers are having high yields of cotton from that. We are looking forward to the other benefits that we have seen in other countries. For example, we want maize to be drought tolerant and to be able to fight insects,” said Sefasi.

According to Sefasi, the science of genetic engineering has solved problems in crops such as maize and soya bean because farmers are able to grow crops in an environment where there is a lot of insects and the crops can grow without being affected by the insects.

Sefasi, however, noted that there is low rate of adopting biotechnology in the country due to poor communication.

“Policy makers need to be made aware of the power of this technology in terms of solving real problems for Malawi. You know Malawi is dependent on agriculture and the moment there are diseases with crops like maize, the moment there are issues of Cyclones, those challenges cause problems in the yields of the crops

“We should have a conversation that will make people realise that there are advantages of biotechnology which some farmers are already enjoying in cotton,” said Sefasi.

Lilian Chimphepo, National Biosafety Registrar under Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change, encouraged scientists in the country to submit applications on varieties of crops.

“So far, we have only adopted one GM crop which is BT-cotton in 2019 and now farmers are actually growing the crops. For us, we receive an application then we work on the application. Researchers, the scientists once they bring the technology, that’s our job to regulate to see the safety, to consider the safety issues for the environment as well as safety issues for consumption for the health of people and also livestock. So we need to have more applications from scientists and then we will see if their applications are good,” said Chimphepo.

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