Tanzania to start growing genetically-modified cotton

The legal framework to grow the genetically modified cotton strain, or BT, had been set up and trials would start “any time,” Marco Mtunga, a regulation officer at the Dar es Salaam-based board, said recently.
Lint cotton output may rise to 260 000 tonnes in 2014/15 from an expected 90 000 tonnes this season through improved productivity, by extending credit to farmers and introducing contract farming.

“The timeline for introduction of BT has not been charted but the legal framework is in place.
“Results from the pilot study indicate that productivity will go up as farmers will receive inputs on credit, reliable extension services will be provided in collaboration of the private sector and the government.”

Tanzania is Africa’s fifth-largest lint cotton producer by volume after Egypt, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Benin, according to 2007 statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Mtunga added that commercial banks had agreed to offer loans for contract farming, and the government was finalising plans to set up an agricultural bank.

As many as 500 000 Tanzanian farmers cultivate about 485 000 hectares of cotton in the country’s northern, coastal and western regions, according to the board.
The country grows the medium fibre variety of the crop. BT cotton is a genetically modified strain that produces toxins lethal to bollworms, which are a serious threat to crops. — feedblitz.com

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