KENYA – In a bid to curtail the current shortage and affordability of feeds, the Government of Kenya has green-lighted the importation of duty-free genetically modified (GM) cottonseed cake for manufacture of animal feeds.

In a Gazette Notice exempting duty on imported raw materials used to manufacture animal and chicken feeds, Treasurer Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has allowed eight manufacturers to import up to 28,000 metric tons of GM cotton seed cake from Bt cotton.

“The imported cottonseed cake shall be either GM or non-GMO in accordance with the laws of Kenya and Kenyan standards applicable under the laws of Kenya and implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Biosafety Authority,” reads the notice.

This development signals the critical contribution of biotech cotton in addressing the incessant feed crisis that has pushed the country’s livestock sub-sector to the brink. The new directive is a clear demonstration by the Government to prioritize Bt cotton as one of the country’s economic enablers.

The use of Bt cottonseed cake to manufacture animal feeds opens a huge opportunity for Kenyan cotton farmers to tap into diverse markets for their produce. The farmers have an opportunity to close the feed deficit by growing more cotton for seed cake.

Kenya rolled out commercial farming of the biotech cotton in 2020, and currently farmers in eastern and western regions are already cultivating the crop which is three times more productive than conventional varieties.

The big demand for cottonseed cake will revitalize the cotton sub-sector and open up a lucrative income stream for farmers, according to Crop Biotech.

The decision to allow importation of GM cottonseed cake comes shortly after a national dialogue on building Kenya’s sustainable animal feed system held in Nairobi.

Speaking during the dialogue, Livestock Principal Secretary (PS) Harry Kimtai hinted that the Government would address the ban and approval of GM crops on a case-by-case basis.

Giving the clearest indication yet that the ban will soon be lifted, the PS revealed the Government has developed a biotech crop Post-Release Monitoring Framework for Bt maize.

“The Post-Release Monitoring Framework will be sufficient in safeguarding human health as the country considers lifting the GM food import ban,” said PS Kimtai.

The dialogue proposed a raft of recommendations for building a sustainable feed system in the country.

Last year, the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (AKEFEMA), the country’s umbrella body for livestock feed producers, called on the Government to review and vacate its Cabinet memo of 2012 which banned the importation of GM foods into the country.

The association said the ban led to the shortage of feed ingredients pushing production costs to the rim and negatively impacting the country’s livestock feed industry.

Liked this article? Subscribe to Food Safety Africa News, our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s food safety, quality and compliance. SUBSCRIBE HERE