Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Genetically modified cotton comes closer to reality in Ethiopia

BT cotton, which was planted in six parts of the country last July 2016  passed its  field trial test and has brought promising results. If it scores well in the next trial it will be used for commercial purposes.   The confined   field trail which was conducted in small farms at Asayta, Dufti, Wiyeto, Amorati, Pawe and Kemashe  brought insect and drought resistant cotton. The quality and yield at these farms was acceptable.   The trials were conducted under the terms and conditions set by the various governmental regulatory bodies and the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute led the experiment.

The trial came after a new amended proclamation allowing the involvement Ethiopian scientists  to conduct  research in biotechnology  and  also allowing the country to gain from the technology harmonizing  with the environment.

In around four months, the second trials will be carried out at the same farms.

Bt cotton is a genetically modified organism (GMO) cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to the  bollworm.

Getachew Beku  Senior Genetic Modified Organism Monitory Expert told Capital that assuming the second trial passes the results will be brought to the parliament through the Bio-safety advisory committee that will be established soon under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate.

Ethiopia has considerable potential for producing cotton. However, production is constrained in part by the limited availability of quality inputs, including seed, fertilizer, and pest control agents. For instance, in the case of seed, the current varieties are more than 20 years old and are degraded. Land tenure rights, as well as natural disasters, such as floods, hamper the country’s ability to quickly expand production.

Ethiopia’s cotton production is insufficient to meet the growing demand from the textile and apparel sector. Increased production and imports are required to close this gap. Ethiopia has previously imported cotton from various international suppliers, including the United States.  Increased sales of U.S. cotton are expected as demand increases. Opportunities also exist for agricultural inputs and systems used to grow and process cotton into textile and apparel.

Currently  Ethiopia produces an average 6 ,000 up to 7 ,000 quintals of cotton   on  one hectare  but annually 45,000 tons are produced for locals but  textile factories  who import up to 14,000 tons of cotton from abroad are asking the  government to use Bt cotton to meet local demand.