Now Bunge team joins pro-GMO seeds lobby

22Nov 2018
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Now Bunge team joins pro-GMO seeds lobby

MEMBERS of the parliamentary committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water have joined farmers across the country in pushing for the government to allow the use of genetically modified organism (GMO) crop seed varieties that are said to be drought-resistant and not easy for pests to attack.

The committee offered its support to the pro-GMOs lobby after visiting the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) maize trial farm in Makutupora, Dodoma region.

According to researchers from TARI and the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), GMO seeds are a solution to the long-standing problems of farm invasions by pests such as army-worms and others.

Committee chairman Mahmoud Mgimwa said they were convinced by the trial results and called on the government to extend its budget for such researches aimed at to respond to the challenges of maize farmers in the country.

“We are satisfied that GMO seeds can give us good maize yields, so we are pushing for the government allow their use and production locally,” Mgimwa stated.

The government has said it is ready to invest in the agricultural sector to ensure that it caters for the needs of a national industrialization drive. Said Mgimwa: “Considering that 80 percent of raw materials to feed the industries comes from Tanzania, we need to look on this in a serious way.”

He expressed the committee’s full satisfaction with the trial farm results, adding that if the exercise had been better funded, the results might have  been even  better.

One of the committee members, Daniel Nsanzungwako, saluted the government for allowing the GMO seeds research to go ahead.

“The research findings are a good answer to agriculturalists who have been against GMO seeds… they prove beyond  doubt that such seeds can transform the farming sector if they are allowed,” he said.

Another committee member, Dr Mary Nagu, called on critics to stop treating the GMOs issue in a political manner.

And accordinjg to Anthony Komu, anothyer committee member: “The budgets for funding these kinds of  researches are still low in the country... the government should increase funding to enable researchers come up with more solutions for such problems.”

TARI director general Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo called on the government to give the go-ahead for the setting up of more GMO seeds trial farms in other parts of the country.

According to Mkamilo, GMO seeds are a solution to the long-standing problems of pest invasions in farms across Tanzania.

He said TARI has been tasked to ensure that farmers get quality seeds that will enable them to harvest enough produce for the anticipated agricultural processing factories under the fifth phase government’s industrialization drive.

Deputy minister for agriculture Innocent Bushugwa agreed that there is now a need for ministry officials to hold discussions with their counterparts in the Vice President’s Office (environment division) on the GMO seeds trial outcome.

Bushugwa also directed TARI to immediately work on calling for a stakeholders meeting on the matter.