Naieobi (Xinhua) -- Insect-resistant Genetically Modified (GM) maize will be commercialized in Kenya in 2018, researchers said on Sunday.
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Communications and Partnerships Manager Nancy Muchiri told Xinhua in Nairobi on Sunday that the Biotech maize has successfully undergone the confined field trials (CFT) stage and is awaiting National Performance Trials (NPTs).
"The maize will be commercialized in 2018 after the National Performance Trials (NPTs) tests are successfully conducted over a period of two seasons," Muchiri said.
The NPTs will be conducted by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).
The aim of the tests is to assess the value for cultivating the new variety of maize and will assess the crop performance against existing varieties in targeted agro-ecological zones.
The research is being conducted jointly by the AATF and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) under the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project.
Muchiri said that the approval for environmental release of biotech maize was received from the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) in January.
She said that environmental release only occurs after successful confined field trials and indicates that the product is safe.
Muchiri added that the Biotech maize is resistant to the stem-borer insect pest that is responsible for the loss of approximately 400,000 tons of maize annually in Kenya.
She noted that improved maize production will increase Kenya's food security given that the cereal is the country's main staple food.
According to AATF, the transgenic insect-pest protected maize hybrids will reduce the amount of insecticides required to apply on the maize.
"This will lower the cost of production of maize resulting in higher income for maize farmers," she said.