Kenya to import first genetically modified maize as drought ravages food supply

PUBLISHED: Fri, 18 Nov 2022 10:44:25 GMT
Bhargav Acharya and George Obulutsa
A Kenyan farmer uproots a field where he was growing maize that failed because of a drought, in Kilifi county, Kenya, February 16, 2022. Picture taken February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

NAIROBI, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Kenya is set to import its first genetically modified maize, the trade cabinet secretary has said, as the government seeks to ease food shortages caused by the country’s worst drought in 40 years.

Local media reported that Kenya will on Friday authorise the duty-free importation of 10 million bags of maize over the next six months, and for the first time it will include genetically modified maize.

The imports will be the first since President William Ruto lifted a decade-long ban last month on the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops, which authorities hope will improve crop yields and food security as millions face hunger.

“In view of the food situation in the country, I shall be signing instruments to allow duty free imports of GMO (genetically modified) and non GMO Maize for the next 6 months,” secretary Moses Kuria said on Twitter.

Annual rains have failed across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia for the last four seasons, forcing 1.5 million people out of their homes in search of water and food elsewhere.

(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Johannesburg and George Obulutsa in Nairobi; Editing by Tommy Reggiori Wilkes, William Maclean)

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