Uganda expects to take its first genetically modified crop to the market in 2014 when a regulatory framework to guide production will have been enacted, say scientists at the National Agriculture Research Organisation NARO.
Yona Baguma, a senior research officer at NARO says ongoing trials on bananas, cassava, maize, cotton and potatoes are promising and once licensed GM crops have the potential to give Ugandans food security while widening the export base.
“If things go as planned, we expect commercial GM cotton in 2014, cassava 2016 and drought resistant maize by 2017,” Dr Baguma said during the launch of the global Genetically Modified Organisms report 2011 in Kampala last month.
The pioneer crops have been selected because of their potential for improving livelihood of small holder farmers who cannot participate in capital intensive activities such as flowers and tea due to cost and climatic limitations in many parts of the country.
The modified crops, according to scientists, are resistant to drought and are not easily affected by pests and diseases.
Uganda and Kenya, however, have been slow to adopt cultivation or consumption of GM crops on a commercial scale over fears of yet unknown effects of the crops on humans and bio-diversity of indigenous crops and environment.