KALRO, Thika – Some KEPHIS Board members visited the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization(KALRO) in Thika where they assessed ongoing National Performance Trials(NPTs) for Bt Maize. In this trial, the maize is being tested for stem borer resistance; the pest causes extreme damage to maize leading to massive losses to farmers. The Board was shown rows of maize grown under conventional conditions and other rows with the gene inserted to mitigate against the stem borer for comparison. The data will be analyzed and presented to the National Performance Trials Committee.
The visit is a follow up to the Biosafety Risk Assessment and Genome Editing Technologies capacity building workshop held a few weeks ago in Nairobi. The workshop was important to KEPHIS and NBA board members as key policy decisions on biosafety matters in Kenya fall on them.
Other sites where Bt Maize is undergoing NPTs include Embu, Mwea, Kibos, Kakamega, Alupe and Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability(DUS) tests at Kiboko. The purpose of NPTs to test new plant varieties for performance compared to varieties currently in the market.