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Malawi to start growing genetically modified cotton this year

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Malawi is from this year expected to start growing genetically modified (GM) cotton, the Cotton Council of Malawi (CCM) has said.

CCM Chief Executive Officer, Madaika Cosmas Luwanda, disclosed this in Lilongwe on Monday on the sidelines of a briefing ahead of the launch of Malawi Cotton Development Strategy (MCDS) and the Special Campaign for Cotton Production Enhancement (Scope).

BT cotton is a genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically modified pest resistant cotton variety, which produces an insecticide to combat bollworm.

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Malawi, which has been conducting trials on the crop for the past five years, will start growing GM cotton despite the crop facing significant challenges in other countries such as Burkina Faso.

“Government, through the Technology Release Committee under the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development released BT Cotton as a technology in Malawi, I think that was in January this year meaning that we can start growing BT Cotton in the country,” Luwanda said.

He said 60 percent of the production costs in cotton go towards controlling of bollworms adding that controlling bollworms could reduce cost of production in cotton by 60 percent.

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Luwanda added that the authorities are fully aware that GM Cotton faced some challenges in Burkina Faso, saying they have analysed the situation and came up with a solution.

He added that MCDS, which will be launched on Friday, is a strategic framework to guide development of the cotton sub-sector in Malawi through the period 2019/20 – 2023/24.

Luwanda said it is envisaged that the cotton sector, guided by this strategy, has the potential to significantly contribute to Agricultural Transformation in Malawi.

The strategy, according to Luwanda, has eight strategic outcomes which include boosting cotton producing to 200,000 metric tonnes and productivity to 2,000 kilogrammes per hectare by 2024.

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