Members of parliament from the Kingdom of Swaziland have called for repeal of a law hindering use of GMOs in the country. This was after a study tour of India’s biotech cotton sub-sectors including research institutes, seed production companies and farmers’ fields.
The study tour, conducted on November 13-19 2016, aimed at exposing African stakeholders to the Indian Bt cotton farming experiences, as well as the country’s biotech crop regulation and commercialization processes. Three legislatures led by the chair of Agricultural Committee of parliament, Hon. Dr. Titus Twala described the study tour as an eye opener saying that their perceptions about GMOs has changed completely. “One thing I have learned is that it’s not good to criticize before you actually understand the issue. For instance, we had heard a lot of myths about GMOs but when we came here we spoke to the farmers who have been growing these crops for decades and none of the negative things being said were mentioned by the farmers.” he said
The legislators committed to sharing what they have learnt with their colleague and constituents at the grassroots level. “I have seen the technology with my naked eye and it’s now up to me to tell the people back home not to be afraid because just like them I previously held negative perceptions” said Hon. Velie Shongwe, chairman of the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs. I am now positive because I know the truth” he added. The Swaziland delegation included legislators, an assembly clerk and a journalist
The study tour brought together delegates from different African countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi. The high delegation is part of the annual series of exchange and outreach programs under the India-Africa Agriculture Engagement, which is generously supported by ISAAA AfriCenter, Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern & Southern Africa (ACTESA/COMESA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC).