by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – AN expert has urged African governments to review their limits on growing and importing genetically modified (GM) maize.
The advice comes as some countries, including the major exporters of the staple commodity, suffer declines in output.
Wandile Sihlobo, the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), noted that other regions in the world were gradually embracing the genetically-modified version of the crop.
“The likes of the EU (European Union), which for roughly 25 years opposed genetically modified maize, is slowly opening up for imports,” he stated.
Sihlobo added, “China is also on the way to approving genetically modified grains for domestic cultivation.”
“Africa should note these changes and start embracing the technological advancements in agriculture that would boost yields.”
Sihlobo nonetheless noted various nations’ concerns over seed ownership and other issues.
He believes there should be close cooperation between the technology developers, African governments and farmers to find a path to accommodate all affected parties’ concerns.
Sihlobo noted South Africa has embraced this technology since the early 2000s.
Before its introduction average maize yields were about 2,4 tonnes per hectare.
According to Sihlobo, this has increased to an average of 5,6 tonnes per hectare as of the 2020/21 production season.
The overall sub-Saharan African maize yield remains low, averaging below 2 tonnes per hectare.
Experts point out that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) enable farmers to grow more crops on less land while using fewer pesticides and less water.
Health experts however are wary such food could contribute to the development of cancer by raising levels of potentially carcinogenic substances in the body.
Scientists have warned such food could trigger allergies.
– CAJ News