Head of Planning General of the National Commission for Science and Technology Alick Manda has said the man solution to challenges faced in the agricultural sector in the country lay in the use of multiple approaches that integrate the best of the conventional methods as well as other relevant technologies, one of which is morden biotechnology.
Speaking in Lilongwe recently during the update workshop on Biotech activities in Malawi and launch of the global status report of commercialized biotech crops, Manda said most developed countries have realized that tools of morden biotechnology including genetic engineering have potential to offer a wide range of opportunities to promote economic growth, food security and environmental sustainability.
Currently, Malawi is still beset with numerous challenges such as declining soil fertility, unpredictable weather patterns, and inferior varieties of seeds and high incidences of pests and diseases which prevent the country from realizing its full potential productivity.
He said out of the 29 countries that planted biotech crops on a commercial scale, 19 were developing countries in Africa.
Globally, the number of biotech crop-farmers rose from 14 million in 2009 to 15.4 million in 2012, 14.4 million representing 90 percent of which were small and resource-poor farmers in developing countries mostly growing Biotech cotton.
In this regard, he said Malawi farmers should be accorded the same opportunity to benefit from biotech crops. Officials from Bunda College of Agriculture, a University of Malawi constituent college, have been mandated to grow the first ever biotech cotton in Lilongwe.
Lilongwe is known to have favourable land for tobacco and maize but Weston Mwase of Bunda College said in an interview this week the cotton, which is expected to be planted with the first rains in December, will still do well in the Capital City district.