Dar es Salaam — The rate of biotech adoption has risen globally as Tanzania makes progress in research of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
A new report which indicates the global status of the commercialised GM crops indicate that planting of the biotech crops increased by three per cent to 189.8 million hectares in 2017.
It is also estimated that 17 million farmers in 24 countries are involved in the biotech crop planting while the US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India remain top five GM crop-growing countries.
The five countries planted 91.3 per cent of the global biotech crop area with the US reaching average 94.5 per cent adoption rate for planting of soybeans, maize and cotton, according to the report which was launched by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) at the weekend.
In 2017, the global market value of biotech crop seeds was estimated to have increased by nine per cent to $17.2 billion while the countries gained a total economic benefit of $186.1 billion.
"There is a great improvement in the world, but Africa is still missing the opportunity. If you look at the share of Africa benefit from the biotech agriculture, it's very low despite the fact that researches are ongoing and different countries are in different stages," said Dr Margaret Karembu, the director of Nairobi-based ISAAA AfriCentre who presented the report.
In Africa, only two countries grow biotech crops including South Africa which plants a total of 2.7 million hectares of soybeans, maize and cotton. Sudan grows only cotton on an estimated 0.2 million hectares.
Tanzania makes progress
Tanzania has allowed confined field trial for the GMOs carried out at the Makutupora Viticulture Research and Training Centre in Dodoma.
Agriculture researchers in the country have so far developed drought-resistant maize through conventional method under a region-wide philanthropic project called Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) which is trying to get climate change-resilient crops into the hands of smallholder farmers.
The public-private partnership project operating in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and South Africa is coordinated by the Nairobi-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
MORE INFO: GM IN AFRICA
A total of 13 African countries have some biotech crops in different stages including planting (Sudan and South Africa), evaluating trials or granting approvals to stacked traits. It involves 12 crops and 14 traits which are in different stages. Tanzania and Mozambique approved stacked trait - insect-resistant and drought tolerant maize.