GMO MAIZE IMPORTATION: Its okay even though it’s not okay… says Council of Governors

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Bungoma Governor H.E Kenneth Lusaka, EGH Chairperson, Agriculture Committee
PRESS STATEMENT ON CRITICAL ISSUES AFFECTING COUNTY GOVERNMENTS
Fellow Kenyans,
Members of the Press,
The Council of Governors attention is drawn to recent reports in the
media in the Agriculture and Environment Sectors and we would like to
address you on the Council’s position.
1. The importation of GMO Maize
We note with concern the unfortunate decision and proposal by the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization to import and avail to the Kenyan Market GMO Maize. This puts our Kenyan farmers at a disadvantaged position as they will not be able to sell their maize at a price commensurate to their production cost.
Further, the discussion of importation of GMO was premature as a report on the Maize Balance Sheet by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development projects a maize surplus of 19.1 million bags by end of December 2022. This is as a result of the 16 million (90kg) bags to be harvested from the 2022 long rains crops in South Rift, North rift,Nyanza and parts of Western counties and 1.5 million bags import from the EAC region by private sector.
In this regard, the Council proposes a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Trade and industrialization to discuss this matter to ensure our farmers are well compensated for their yields.
Additionally, we urge the National Government through NCPB to make available resources to purchase all the maize held by famers before any importation is granted.
2. Decision by Government to lift the ban on GMO
The Government of Kenya vacated the ban on genetically modified
organisms (GMO) on 3rd of October 2022 in an effort to cushion Kenyans
from high cost of production as well reduce the cost of food to consumers.
Kenya continues to experience the worst drought with 5.1 million Kenyans requiring food aid.
The Council notes that the decision to lift the ban on GMO is likely to promote research and development in biotechnology and alleviate food insecurity in the country.
However, we note this may not be solution to food security challenges facing the country.
The Council therefore proposes that the National and County Governments form a Joint Technical Committee to oversee the execution of the GMO ban lift.
The Committee should incorporate, farmers, academia and other interested parties to enhance transparency and information sharing on GMO.

3. Felling of Baobab trees in Kilifi County
We note that the uprooting of 8 Baobab trees in Kilifi County goes against our National targets to increase the Forest and Tree Cover especially in coastal and dryland areas. Further, it also goes against our legal and policy stand to conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable use of its components and the equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
We recognize that the ecological value of the Baobab tree outweighs the intended purpose of the uprooting.
In light of the above, the Council of Governors has held consultations with the County Government of Kilifi and wish to inform members of the public that the following corrective measures have been initiated; No further felling of Baobab trees will be undertaken since a stop order was issued.
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The County Government is putting in place policy and legal frameworks to ensure Baobab and other indigenous tree species are protected.
The County Government has commenced public awareness on the need for full disclosure when approached by investors seeking to achieve interests that may not fall within the National and County aspirations.
Conclusion,
As we conclude, we urge the National Government to collaborate andconsult the Council of Governors on all matters that pertain to implementation of devolved functions. This will ensure that we strengthen the existing intergovernmental relations between the two levels of Government.
Additionally, we urge all the County Governments to operationalize their County Environment Committees so as to provide the much needed oversight role on environmental management.
Asanteni Sana!

Signed
H.E Kenneth Lusaka, EGH
Chairperson, Agriculture Committee
Council of Governors
H.E Hon. Dr. Wilber Khasilwa Ottichilo
Chairperson, Environment and Climate Change

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