The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) has taken the genetically modified (GM) confined cotton trials to the cotton growing districts of Salima, Balaka, Chikwawa and Zomba.
One of the proponents of the GM cotton, Professor Moses Kwapata, said in an interview that the crop is doing well and expressed hope that the harvest will be impressive.
Kwapata said GM cotton has the capacity to take farmers out of poverty because cotton fetches good prices when compared to other cash crops such as groundnuts, beans and maize.
“We are very grateful to government for allowing us to take the confined trials outside the Luanar campus. As we are talking now, we are in Chikhwawa…we will soon be visiting Makoka, then we will proceed to Balaka and Salima.
“We planted the crop in December and we are very happy with the support we are getting from the Department of Agriculture and Research Services,” said Kwapata.
Meanwhile, agricultural counsellor in the Embassy of the United States of America Foreign Agricultural Service, Kate Snipes, says the GM cotton has potential to transform lives of cotton farmers in the country.
Speaking in an interview after visiting the trial site at Luanar in Lilongwe recently, snipes said the site is well managed.
“What I have seen in the field is very impressive and the college authorities are following protocols and procedures needed to safeguard GM crops so that they do not contaminate other plants,” said Snipes.
The GM cotton will help farmers to reduce production costs because it needs fewer pesticides as compared to natural breeds.