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Drought Slows Africa's GM Crop Growth

A recently released study indicates that the areas under genetically-modified crops in Africa marginally declined last year due to the El Nino-induced drought that affected most countries in eastern and southern Africa.

According to the pro-GM International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) 2015 annual report on Global Commercialisation of Biotech Crops, a severe drought reduced hectarage of GM maize in South Africa, the continent’s biggest grower, from three million hectares to 2.3 million hectares.

Agricultural analysts say the decline also demonstrated the vulnerability of the continent to climate change and falling commodity prices.

In Africa, over the last 18 years, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Sudan were the three major GM crop growers.

Eight other African countries, namely, Kenya, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Swaziland have been conducting biotech crop field trials as a key step to approval for commercialisation.

The trials are focusing on key food security crops such as banana, cassava, cowpea, sorghum, sweet potato, maize, potato and rice.

As a result, ISAAA says, Africa could contribute five new biotech crops to the global biotech basket in the coming years.

Quinn Dombrowski

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