Daniel Njagi, a farmer from Evurore Ward, Mbeere North in Embu County, Kenya recounts with joy how his family still makes a living even after a massive crop failure doing to prolonged drought. “Bt cotton saved the day”, the enthused farmer says, narrating how the green grams intercropped with the insect protected cotton failed as the cotton survived the drought.
Daniel returned to cotton farming soon after the government approved the commercial cultivation of Bt cotton, after many years’ hiatus owing to high cost of production with conventionally bred cotton. “We used to apply up to twelve rounds of insecticide spray, as compared to the three to four times we currently spray on the Bt cotton”, he added.
Daniel was among a group of 30 farmers drawn from various parts of Mbeere North sub-County that had gathered at Mr. Francis Runji’s farm to share and learn best agronomic practices in Bt cotton planting and management. Mr. Edward Ireri, the local agricultural extension advisor urged the farmers to ensure that they adhere to the stewardship guidelines provided by experts for maximized yields of the insect protected cotton.
On his part, Mr. Francis Runji demonstrated how he has managed to control pre-emergence weeds, which was lauded by the experts present during the field day. “I have learned a lot from this field day, and I am going to try out Bt cotton farming next season on a two-acre piece of land”, observed Mr. Erastus Mugo, an illustrious farmer from a neighboring sub-county who is keen to begin cotton farming and who, as the other farmers present, was impressed by the confessions about the performance of the Bt cotton.
Bt Cotton in Kenya was approved for commercial cultivation in 2020, and so far, the early adopters of the technology continue to express their joy with the crop. Through biotechnology, Bt cotton has been improved to resist the African bollworm. It continues to receive wide and fast acceptance among Kenyan farmers especially in fringe and ASAL localities. ISAAA AfriCenter and partners have rolled out stewardship management programs such as the field day and demonstration plot at Mr. Runji’s farm, to ensure sustained benefits of the crop with proper adherence to recommended good agronomic practices.