THE Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged Zambia and other countries in Southern Africa to accept the use of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), especially with adverse changes in weather patterns.
FAO climate change expert Louis Bockel said with Southern Africa experiencing adverse climate change, it was important for farmers to adapt to new technologies to survive weather pressures.
Professor Bockel, who has spent 25 years in the agricultural value chain and agricultural policy planning in more than 40 countries, said countries would have to be ready for adverse weather conditions that came with climate change.
“Farmers will have to develop new crop varieties or hybrids as a way to encourage farmers to adapt. With climate change, you need to diversify into more resilient crops, plants that would be more water-efficient or drought-tolerant.
During such times, you can not afford to ignore technology… you forget the myths,” prof Bockel said.
This comes just a week after Patriotic Front secretary-general Wynter Kabimba said Zambia would not accept GMOs because they were a danger to national food security and the local environment.
This was in line with Government’s long standing position on GMO’s which was heightened when late Levy Mwanawasa sent a team of local experts to the US to study the effects that accompany the introduction of GMOs.
The team reported to Dr Mwanawasa that while the GMOs would bring higher yields, their genetic form would destroy the local breed especially maize and reduce local seeds’ future yields.
But Mr Bockel said fears about GMOs and the effect on food security needed to be demystified adding, farmers needed to develop solid soil and water conservation strategies and get to use irrigation system a lot more.
As Zambia and FAO talk about the need for GMOs, the World Bank last year announced it had approved a US$110 million facility to undertake a pilot project in Zambia over crop resilience to adverse climate change.
From that amount, the World Bank said $50 million was a grant and the $60 million would be a concessional loan.