Expedite research on genetically modified cotton – CAZ

THE Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ) has called on the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to expedite the approval to undertake research on genetically modified (GM) cotton in Zambia to enhance the production of the crop.
In 2013, the Cotton Development Trust (CDT) wrote an application to the NBA for permission to undertake research on bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) which is genetically modified cotton, but the approval is still awaited.
CAZ national co-ordinator Joseph Nkole said small-scale farmers have already been introduced to the advantages of growing GM cotton and they do not know why research should not be conducted.
In an interview, Mr Nkole said once research on GM cotton is undertaken, introduction of the technology can then be implemented in future, based on the findings.
He said farmers are aware that the technology will contribute to high production of the crop and increase of their income as it is a solution in addressing the problem of pests which is a major cotton production constraint in Zambia.
“CAZ is concerned at the continued low cotton yields in the country which last year saw Zambia ranked as the lowest cotton producer in the world. As such, we would like the CDT to undertake research on GM cotton,” he said.
Mr Nkole said it is disheartening that farmers are only producing 500 kilogrammes (kg) of cotton per hectare and yet with the three cotton varieties in the country, Zambia has the potential to produce over 4,000 kg of the crop through irrigation.
He is, however, optimistic that if Malawi has a spirited research of Bt cotton and introduced GM cotton in that country, the crop will definitely find its way in Zambia.
“Farmers there [Malawi] have high BT cotton production, which is what our small-scale farmers here desire to experience,” he said.

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