Council of Governors faults lifting of ban on GMO demand involvement of farmers

Bungoma Governor and (COG) Chairperson of Agriculture committee Ken Lusaka
Bungoma Governor and (COG) Chairperson of Agriculture committee Ken Lusaka

The council of Governors has faulted the manner in which the government lifted the ban of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) maize in Kenya saying it was hurried and they were never consulted.

Addressing the press in Bungoma, the council Chairperson, Agriculture Committee Kenneth Lusaka and his Environment and Climate Change counterpart Wilber Otichilo 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,” said Lusaka.

He pointed out that this was as 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 and 1.5 million bags import from the EAC region by 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 farmers are well compensated for their yields.

He demanded that the National Government through 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 vacation on the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) on 3rd of October 2022 in an effort to cushion Kenyans from high cost of production as well reduce the cost of food to consumers and solve food insecurity in the country this may not be 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,” he stated

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

The council also took issue of 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,” he addded

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 wish 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,” affirmed Lusaka

He said the County Government of Kilifi is putting in place policy 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.