Kitale — Trans-Nzoia Governor George Natembeya wants the Cabinet to review its decision on lifting the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Addressing the press at his Kitale Townhall office on Tuesday, Governor Natembeya said the decision to lift the ban on GMOs was ill-timed, especially at this moment when maize farmers in Rift Valley and Western regions were harvesting the crop.
"The Cabinet's decision to lift the ban on genetically modified crops has raised several questions. There was need for proper stakeholder involvement," argued Natembeya.
According to the Governor, allowing GMOs without proper consideration of professional experts' views would not only be a threat to livelihoods of small-scale farmers in counties that produce maize but also a threat to health and living standards of Kenyans.
The County boss pointed out that uninformed lifting of the ban on GMO was likely to expose the Kenyan population to health risks and open floodgates to a market susceptible to manipulation by cartels to fleece the hardworking Kenyan farmer.
"We need to soberly interrogate some of the advantages and disadvantages associated with consumption of genetically modified foods instead of branding those opposed to it as primitive," remarked Natembeya.
The governor urged the government to consider halting importation of genetically modified maize until it has mopped up the 2022 harvest.
He observed that Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and Uasin-Gishu counties were capable of producing maize surplus, enough to feed the nation without necessarily importing the same.
Natembeya appealed to the national government to support farmers in maize growing regions through subsidies to boost production of the commodity.
Governor Natembeya at the same time praised President William Ruto's move to subsidize fertilizers, saying it was the surest way of empowering the Kenyan farmer.
He said his administration will also set aside funds that will see prices of fertilizer come down in order to assist farmers scale up their activities.
"My administration will provide support to farmers to see them increase production so that we have enough food surplus that will feed other parts of the country that are in need," added Natembeya.
Commenting on current harvested maize prices, the governor regretted that most farmers in the rich maize growing zones are frustrated after getting swindled by unscrupulous middlemen traders.
"We must develop mechanisms that would forever liberate the Kenyan farmer from the current dilemma of selling their produce cheaply only for prices of the same to improve after they have sold to brokers," he remarked. - Kna