Drought persists, as legislators differ on GM maize

By Peter Kahare - 20 Jul 2011 15:23:0 GMT
Drought persists, as legislators differ on GM maize

Kahare - Kenya. Drought continues ravaging different parts of Kenya with the number of people receiving relief food in East Pokot district tripling over the last three months as cabinet and parliament stand divided on whether to allow importation of genetically modified maize.

East Pokot District Commissioner Amos Mariba said Tuesday that 66,000 people were receiving relief food against 26,300 who were receiving in March with Kenya National Food Security Steering Committee saying that the number was bound to rise.

"Last year we had big harvests in Chulo and Tangulubei divisions, but this year the rains are low and we do not expect much harvest as the end of long rains is around the corner," said Mr Mariba.

All schools in Pokot have been put under school feeding program as children lacked food in their homes with the administrator saying the relief food supply was expected to last for the next six months.

Drought crisis in Northern Kenya and other parts of the country has sparked mixed reactions and debate on whether to allow GM maize or seek alternative sources of relief food. The situation has been exacerbated by influx of refugees fleeing drought and war from Somalia.

Approximately 11 million people are faced with drought in the Horn of Africa, Kenya included.

But with the situation as bad as it is, section of farmers in North Rift region have opposed importation of GM maize and warned that they will hold a demonstration should the government continue with the plans to import the maize. The farmers said Tuesday that they were expecting bumper harvests and importation of GM maize would flood and upset the market.

Minsiter James Orengo for land, assistant Ministers Linah Kilimo for Cooperative and Kazungu Kambi for Medical Services and a host of legislators have opposed importation of GM maize saying the government had not exhausted all alternative options.

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