FIFTY per cent of the Kenyan population is food insecure and adoption of Biotechnology will play a major role in boosting food production. According to Dr Joel Ochieng, a biotechnology expert from the University of Nairobi, 80 per cent of the Kenyan population live in the rural areas and depend on agriculture and fisheries for their livelihood.
Dr Ochieng, who was speaking in Meru during a biosafety and biotechnology outreach workshop, said a significant potential for increased production remains largely unexploited. “We need to optimise the levels of production which will generate employment and sources of income as well as uplifting the wealth and well being of the community. Improving agricultural production is important in reducing poverty and increasing food security,” he said.
Ochieng said promoting production of Genetically Modified Organisms fights major crop pests and diseases. He said that through adoption of such increases tolerance of environmental stress orchestrated by drought, flooding, soil acidity and extreme temperatures. He said countries which have adopted the GMO have increased yield, reduced post harvest loss and improved content of foods and foodstuffs. Ochieng said the country lacks a supportive policy and legal framework as well as social and ethical concerns thus hindering the adoption and utilisation of modern biotechnology.