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    Kenyan researchers say that more tests are needed before genetically modified (GM) maize seeds can be grown commercially in the country.
    A statement issued by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) permitted the release of the the crops to the environment, but only for field trials .
    “We have to ensure that in addition to the crop being safe for human consumption, it also does not damage the environment,” NBA Chief Executive, Willy Tonui, said.
    The authorization request had been filed in June 2015 by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (ATF) for a breed of seeds modified by Monsanto to be resistant to pests.
    The two organisations will have to work with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KePHIS) in the trials. The application by KALRO and ATF came after several years of laboratory trials by the two institutions, which now want the seeds released to farmers for mass production.
    The ban
    The conditional approval goes against a ban on GMO foods that was installed by the Ministry of Public Health ordered public health officials on  November 21, 2012.
    At the time, the Ministry ordered public health officials to remove all GMO foods on the market and to enforce a ban on GMO imports.
    The Minister for Public Health then, Beth Mugo, presented the concerns about the safety of GMOs during a Kenyan cabinet meeting, citing a French study that linked cancer in rats to the consumption of GMO foods.

    A taskforce set up to establish the safety of GMO crops in the country analysed the report on which the ban had been based and recommended the lifting of the prohibition.

    "The taskforce noted that no GMO product has so far been tested for safety for human consumption in Kenya and the present Biosafety Act has no specific provision for testing these products," read a report by the taskforce.

    The French study has since been retracted.

     

     

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    Farmers from various counties have reported increased income after improving their enterprise using low-interest loans from UKaid. 

    UKaid allows farmers access to funding through its Finance Innovation for Climate Change Fund (FICCF), which is provide to those who specialise in dairy (Bomet, Embu, Nyandarua and Nakuru), sorghum/cassava – Homa Bay, Siaya and other counties bordering Lake Victoria and indigenous chicken (Bungoma, Kakamega, Busia, Siaya and Kisumu).

    The loans are provided through microfinance institutions Inuka, ECLOF, KREP and Century Bank. 

    Positive feedback

    The British High Commission takes prides in the story of a Mr. Kagwe, from Ngorika in Nyandarua county, who had been delivering milk to the New Ngorika Dairy, until early 2015, when they shifted to the UKaid-funded Inuka/FICCF dairy partnership.

    “Before joining the UKaid funded scheme, they struggled to access cheaper credit with flexible repayment options. Their situation was worsened by low yields and their inability to make dairy investments such as pasture establishment and shed construction on their farm,” says the High Commission in its Facebook page.

    “Through the Inuka/ FICCF initiative they were able to acquire a loan which was used to purchase two Friesian heifers”.

    The funds also enabled Kagwe construct a zero-grazing shed and buy a chaff cutter to process livestock feeds.

    READ ALSO: Nakuru Hay Farmer Commended by UK

    Mr Kagwe repayed the loan through monthly deductions made on proceeds from their milk delivery.

    “With the new cows, the farm’s monthly income has increased to over KSh30,000 from the previous Kshs 18,000 which was not enough for them to sufficiently invest on their farm,” said the UK High Commission.

     

    Mr. Kagwe’s future plans include setting-up a biogas generator to make use of the immense animal refuse at his farm and also sink a borehole to address perennial water shortages in the area.  

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