In June 2022, the Government of Kenya granted approval for importation of duty-free genetically modified (GM) cottonseed cake for manufacture of animal feeds as the country seeks to arrest the current shortage and unaffordability of feeds. This comes as a great relief to Kenya’s livestock farmers who are currently staring at a bleak future following a dire shortage of the feeds.  

In a Gazette Notice exempting duty on imported raw materials used to manufacture animal and chicken feeds, Treasurer Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has allowed eight manufacturers to import up to 28,000 metric tons of GM cotton seed cake from Bt cotton. “The imported cottonseed cake shall be either GM or non-GMO in accordance with the laws of Kenya and Kenyan standards applicable under the laws of Kenya and implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the National Biosafety Authority,” reads the notice.

The new directive is a clear demonstration by the Government to prioritize Bt cotton in addressing the incessant feed crisis that has pushed the country’s livestock sub-sector to the brink. 

The use of Bt cottonseed cake in manufacture of animal feeds opens a huge opportunity for Kenyan cotton farmers to tap into diverse markets for their produce. The farmers have an opportunity to close the feed deficit by growing more cotton for seed cake. Kenya rolled out commercial farming of the biotech cotton in 2020, and currently farmers in eastern and western regions are already cultivating the crop which is three times more productive than conventional varieties.

The big demand for cottonseed cake will revitalize the cotton sub-sector and open up a lucrative income stream for farmers.

The decision to allow importation of GM cottonseed cake came hot on the heels of a national dialogue on building Kenya’s sustainable animal feed system held in Nairobi. The national dialogue was organized by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB-Kenya) and partners. 

During the dialogue, farmers amplified their call for importation of GM feed ingredients which are relatively cheap and readily available on the global market.

Jennifer Koome, a farmer and co-founder of Daiichi Pig Farm observed that the Kenya’s feed crisis can only be resolved through a multi-stakeholder approach. “As farmers, we look for cheaper but safer feeds that are readily available all round,” she said.