Business

Cotton farmers need more information – CDT

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Cotton Development Trust (CDT) says there is need to enhance access to information among small-scale farmers if they are to adopt genetically modified crops.
In 2013, the CDT wrote an application to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) for permission to undertake research on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), genetically modified (GM) cotton, in Zambia to enhance production of the crop, and is still waiting for approval.
According to a study conducted by the trust, Zambia needs a vigorous biotechnology public awareness campaign to enhance knowledge on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
CDT director Lwisya Silwimba said increased sensitisation on biotechnology among Zambians, especially farmers, will enhance knowledge and understanding of the technology.
Mr Silwimba said in Malawi recently that lack of understanding among the public has resulted in misinformation on biotechnology.
“There is need to increase awareness among the people, especially farmers, on genetically modified organisms to enhance knowledge and understanding of the technology.
“Availability of GMO information to small-scale farmers will enable them to make a decision on whether to adopt Bt cotton or not. They need to be aware of exactly what Bt is and the benefits and challenges that come with the technology. Unfortunately, a majority of Zambians do not understand the advantages of adopting biotechnology,” he said.
Mr Lwisya said cotton farmers are faced with various challenges due to inadequate farmer cotton technical production skills and knowledge.
He said pests are a major cotton production constraint in Zambia, and this can only be addressed through the adoption of genetically engineered cotton.

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