World Food Day: Organic Farmers Reject GM Crops

By Obegi Malack

obegimalack@gmail.com

Organic Farmers have rejected government’s move to approve introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country.

Kenya had banned GMOs in 2012 a suspension that restricted importation or open cultivation of GMO crops, the government lifted the ban to allow GMOs in the country.

Esther Kagai founder Community Sustainable Agriculture and Healthy Environment (CSHEP) said the introduction of GMOs will make farming very expensive.

She said farmers will be required to buy seeds from certain companies, there will also be testing and approval of products to be sold in the market.

“Organic farmers use their indigenous seeds that have not been interfered with, introduction of those GMO will require them to spend more,” she said.

The organic farmers trainer who was speaking in Kiserian Muguma Training Centre during World Food Day 2022 which is marked yearly on every 16th October, noted that they encourage farmers to grow health foods which are natural organic food and market their produce besides training them on environmental conservation.

She said they have been using indigenous seeds which have been doing well. They want the government to take up indigenous seeds and multiply them to be used by farmers.

“The indigenous seeds were taken over by hybrid seeds which are becoming more poorer we need to invest in indigenous seeds, we used to harvest a lot,” she said. She said the solution is not GMOs but giving out more indigenous seeds, which are locally adapted, high yielding and health.

Esther Kagai of CSHEP during World Food Day Celebrations

The organic farmers are also against conventional or synthetic fertilizers and encourage use of organic fertilizer which include legumes, animal manure, compost and crop residues.

Use of organic fertilizer conserve the whole environment and ecosystem, there is no destruction of soil and contamination of water.

The farmers also maintain there has been no public participation before introduction of GMOs, they want the government to explore the other available ways.

She recommended the increase of accessibility of water to farmers, this will contribute to growth of more food to fight hunger.

Ngong Organic Farmers association chairperson Peter Melonyie with a beekeeper. Photo/Obegi Malack

Nyambura Simiyu a scientist said there is no country in the world the GMOs have been used to fight hunger. GM crops are also grown by farmers with large farms due to cross pollination issues which is not the case in Kenya where we have small scale farmers.

The companies that are involved in production of GMOs are facing court cases in connection with weed control pesticides.

Simiyu encourages people to practice organic farming, the food has maximum nutritional benefits and minimal calories.

Ngong Organic Farmers association chairperson Peter Melonyie called on the farmers to practice garden farming to increase food productivity in the country besides improving health of the community.

The organic farmers demanded the government to deal with dangerous pesticides, they pointed out use of highly dangerous pesticides in the country with more than one-third of their active ingredients banned in Europe for potential chronic health effects, environmental persistence and high toxicity towards bees or on aquatic organisms.

Kenya has not been able to totally deal with such dangerous pesticides, some of the country’s produce has been rejected for export over high pesticide levels.

Agnes Waithaka agricultural officer commended the farmers for advocating organic farming, she called on the farmers to also practice water harvesting due to ongoing drought that has seen farmers record loss of livestock.

The World Food Day event was attended by farmers from across the country, they displayed their food they produce in their farms.

World Food Day is celebrated around the world to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all.

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