A number of African countries have begun to take advantage of agricultural biotechnology to overcome crop production challenges. The last country reported to have done so is Nigeria where more than 2000 farmers are ready to grow genetically modified cowpea this year, according to the digital publication, Cornell Alliance for Science, dated May 5 2021.

“More than 2,000 Nigerian farmers are planning to plant Bt cowpea, the country’s first genetically modified food crop, in July,” reported the newsletter.

“The crop, which was developed by Nigerian scientists, has been genetically modified (GM) to resist the destructive pod-borer insect pest. As a result, farmers will be able to significantly reduce pesticide applications and harvest bigger yields. The crop is also expected to support the nation’s economic development and food security while improving farmers’ livelihoods.”

Last month, Kenyan cotton farmers reported a bountiful first harvest of GM cotton just only four months after the farmers planted the country’s first genetically modified insect-resistant cotton seeds according to the Genetic Literacy Project Newsletter dated April 21 2021.

Kenya is set to join the ranks of countries such as India, USA, China, Pakistan, and Brazil in growing Bt cotton and marketing its products locally and internationally after passing the Fibre Crops Legislative Bill into law according to a news release from the Nairobi based ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications) published in the weekly digital publication “Crop Biotech Update” dated April 14 2021.

Bt cotton is genetically modified to be high yielding and resistant to the destructive African boll worm which has made cotton production very costly and less profitable for most African countries including Uganda.

Late last week a local TV station reported remarkable success by Ugandan scientists under Naro who have come up with GM cassava that is resistant to the destructive Cassava Brown Streak Disease which is wiping out the food crop from Uganda.

However the GM cassava variety and Bt cotton among other Bt crops cannot be grown in Uganda because the government has not yet passed the required Biotechnology and Bio-safety law like the other countries have done.

Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,