The U.S. is providing 40 tons of Bt cotton seeds to a community in Kenya
By Diego Flammini
The U.S. is doing its part to help farmers in Africa produce crops efficiently.
On Tuesday, Kyle McCarter, America’s ambassador to Kenya, announced the United States is donating 40 tons of Bt cotton seeds to farmers in Kirinyaga County in Kenya.
The cotton is modified to resist African bollworm infestations.
Supplying the county with the seeds, instead of sending them to the federal government, helps ensure the farmers who need the seeds will receive them before they plant during Kenya’s rainy season.
“I’m a firm believer in devolution and that is why we have visited Kirinyaga County which is endowed with great resources that would form the basis of our mutual collaborations,” McCarter said, Citizen Digital reported.
Manufacturing facilities in the country have a difficult time finding enough domestic cotton.
The country has about 50,000 cotton farmers who produce about 30,000 bales per year. Annual demand, however, is about 368,000 bales, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications said in December 2019.
This donation will help farmers provide cotton for the textile industry, McCarter said.
“There’s people that are dependent on jobs at Rivatex (a textile plant in Eldoret, Kenya),” the ambassador said, NTV Kenya reported. “Rivatex cannot get enough cotton. Now they’ll be that much closer to having enough cotton.”
The seed donation comes after Kenya’s federal government legalized the commercial cultivation of Bt cotton in 2019.
Prior to that, researchers at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization conducted five years of field trials.
Researchers found that Bt cotton yields about 6.7 tons per hectare while conventional cotton yields about 1.6 tons per hectare.
Farms.com has reached out to the National Cotton Council for comment.