GMO corn test starts in Ethiopia

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Genetically modified maize dubbed ‘Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA)’ has been planted at Melkassa Agricultural Research Center on a trial basis and if successive trails bring about good results it will be commercialized.  Currently the Maize has been planted on one confined hectare. The plants are being supervised by the National Biosafety Advisory Committee. There are plans for more trails over the next five years.
The GMO seed which came from, Monsanto an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation will also be planted in Bako Agricultural Research Center located at Wellega.
WEMA introduced its first TELA brand white maize hybrids developed using biotechnology in South Africa in October 2016 to address insect pest challenges. Insect-protected maize has been grown widely in other areas of the world for about two decades. TELA brand hybrids are intended to be introduced (pending regulatory approvals) in other African countries within the next few years.
Getnet Worku, an expert at the National Biosafety Advisory Committee told Capital that the main aim of the trail is to how well the GMO maize resists drought and the insects.
“We need to upscale our maize production and the best way is to use a better seed which both resists water shortages and insects. If we get positive results on the trail we will carry out more over the next five years. If the seeds don’t have a problem with the environment and soil we will used them commercially.”
Drought TEGO hybrids have positively impacted the lives of approximately 250,000 sub-Saharan African farming families and more than 1.5 million people.
Conventional WEMA varieties already have been introduced onto the market in target countries, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique except.
In 2016, South Africa became the first project country to commercialize GMO maize for use by smallholder farmers. Mozambique hopes to release the WEMA maize as the country’s first genetically modified organism
Maize is one of Ethiopia’s most important cereals in terms of production; grown by about 8 million farmers. A primary challenge of the Ethiopian maize value chain is access to quality improved maize seeds, which substantially impacts the productivity of smallholder farmers. Also, once harvested, maize is extremely vulnerable to significant postharvest losses due to mold, vermin and theft. Over 17 million quintals of maize are produced annually from about a million hectares of land since 1985
Water Efficient Maize in Africa is led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).