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Sacau gives green light to boosting GM crop useqrcode

Jun. 8, 2011

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Jun. 8, 2011
The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (Sacau) has given the green light to boost genetically modified (GM) crops in the region to ensure food security and alleviate poverty.

The decision was taken at the organisation's annual policy conference, held in Vereeniging last month.

Ishmael Sunga, CE of Sacau, said the conference ended on a positive note in support of genetically modified organisms.

"Following the fruitful discussions, we will enlighten our members in the region on how best to communicate our policies to farmers and interact with governments to endorse biotechnology. We will also work closely with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to achieve the best results," Sunga said.

Marnus Gouse, from the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development at the University of Pretoria, said in a keynote speech at the event that GM crops had significantly benefited both commercial and smallholder farmers in SA.

Farmers' gross margins increased, which led to increased welfare and development of rural areas. As a result, farmers were better off, Gouse said. However, due to institutional failure, there were some cases where Bt (GM variety) adoption by smallholders did not lead to sustained development.

"New GM technologies, Bt and HT (herbicide tolerant) can overcome problems such as weeds and insects but not institutional issues such as policies, politics, credit and market failure, which are to a certain degree the main limiting factors to agriculture in Africa. Africa missed the green revolution, largely due to institutional failure," said Gouse.

He added that, based on a 2002-03 food security impact study for Simdlangetsha and Hlabisa in KwaZulu-Natal, a smallholder farmer who planted 10kg of Bt seed on average harvested 16% or 110kg of grain more than conventional maize.

Sacau has 14 members, comprising national farmers' unions in southern Africa.

About 14 countries from the region attended the conference, including stakeholders from Comesa, SADC, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and AfricaBio.

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