US Agribusiness Firms Troop To Kenya In Search Of GMO Trade Deals

Kenyan farmers holding a genetically modified (GM) cassava PHOTO/CassavaPlus

Representatives drawn from 32 agribusiness firms in the United States have jetted into the country to seal trade deals with Kenyan farmers.

This comes after Kenya lifted a ban on genetically modified (GM) food in a bid to solve the drought affecting most parts of the East Africa region.

Following the lifting of the ban, American firms are in Kenya to seal trade deals and to look for new markets in Kenya for their crops.

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US Deputy Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh lauded the move saying their visit will expand awareness of the importance of GM products in the region.

“I am excited to lead this delegation to foster stronger ties and build economic partnerships between the United States, Kenya and Tanzania as both of these countries present a growing opportunity for US agricultural exports

“This trade mission will provide firsthand knowledge of market conditions and opportunities in East Africa and expand awareness about US agricultural and food products in the region,” he said.

The representatives are expected to hold meetings with potential Kenyan importers, processors and distributors during by the week-long visit.

Among those expected on the trip are officials from the agriculture departments of US food baskets in Kansas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oregon and Nebraska.

This comes a month after the government lifted a ban on the importation and planting of genetically modified crops and animal feeds.

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The ban had been in effect since 2012.

The ban was lifted following a meeting between the Cabinet and President William Ruto which sought to assess progress in the national response to the ongoing drought situation.

The Cabinet considered a wide range of proposals relating to climate change adaptation, reducing Kenya’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture through increased irrigation, and the planting of diverse and drought-resistant crops.

The decision was reached in accordance with the recommendation of the Task Force to Review Matters Relating to Genetically Modified Foods and Food Safety, and in fidelity with the guidelines of the National Biosafety Authority on all applicable international treaties including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).

“Cabinet vacated its earlier decision of 8th November, 2012 prohibiting the open cultivation of genetically modified crops and the importation of food crops and animal feeds produced through biotechnology innovations; effectively lifting the ban on Genetically Modified Crops

“By dint of the executive action open cultivation and importation of White (GMO) Maize is now authorized,” reads the statement from the cabinets office.

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