Zambia keen on adopting GM cotton

Fairtrade cotton farmers
Fairtrade cotton farmers

THE Cotton Development Trust (CDT) is optimistic that once Zambia is given the permission to adopt genetically-engineered cotton that produces its own insecticide, it will help in reduce various challenges faced by farmers to effectively contribute to the sector’s development.
CDT director Lwisya Silwimba said the continued low crop productivity and increased cost of production being faced by small-scale farmers in the cotton sector is negatively affecting the development of the industry in Zambia.

Mr Silwimba said this when he presented a paper on Why genetically modified (GM) cotton trials at the on-going experience sharing and peer learning visit to Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton trials here.
He said there is need to come with measures that will attract more farmers to venture into growing cotton as some small-scale producers are now shunning away from growing the commodity due to increased costs of production resulting in losses.
He said this has made the sector uncompetitive.

“The cotton sector has continued to face various challenges and this affecting its growth…low seed cotton yields are the biggest production cost. They hamper income growth in the smallholder cotton sector and reduce its competitiveness.

“The only solution is to adopt Bt cotton generally, the reduction of production costs through Bt cotton will help to achieve increased earnings for the farmers both in terms of revenue and improved profit margins. It will lead to increased productivity through higher production by existing farmers and will also provide an attractive environment for other potential farmers to enter the industry,” Mr Silwimba said.

In 2013, the CDT wrote an application to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for permission to undertake research on GM cotton in Zambia to enhance production of the crop, and is still awaiting approval.
He said Bt cotton will help develop a more efficient industry through improved technology, better yielding seeds and increased profitability.