10 August 2004 | EN
Maize damaged by insects in Zambia
A. Conti / FAO
Crop pests are a fact of life for African farmers, and chemical pesticides are often too expensive to allow profits. Two alternatives are genetically modified (GM) crops and insect resistant strains of crops developed by conventional breeding experiments. Critics of GM say the technology is being forced on African farmers but supporters say that hunger in Africa cannot be tackled with it.
In this article, Robert Scalia reports on the choices facing African farmers and governments. Uganda, for instance, has a lucrative organic market in Europe and the government forbids the planting of GM crops, but allows imports. Angola and Zambia have banned GM food in imports. Meanwhile, Kenya and South Africa are pushing ahead with GM crops.
Increasing yields is one thing but, as farmers have found, unless the produce looks and tastes right, people won't buy it. And whether or not GM can produce improved yields of safe food, other factors, such as loans for farmers, better infrastructure, and improved markets are also central to the improvement of food security in Africa.
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