The BT cotton trial in Busia is progressing well and looks promising. In early March this year, Busia County played host to the launch of the first ever genetically modified BT cotton in Kenya. It joined other six African nations who are commercially cultivating BT cotton.
A spot check by the Busia County Department of Agriculture and Animal Resources on the Alupe University demo farm reported about 90% of seed survival. Each BT cotton plant has about 50 balls with the number expected to increase towards harvesting in two months’ time.
BT cotton is a high yielding variety and is resistant to the bollworm. With proper follow up of agronomic practices, a farmer can get up to 1000-1200kgs per acre with a seed rate of 1.6 Kgs per acre. So far 260 Kgs of BT cotton seeds and 2740 Kgs of non BT (hybrid) cotton have been distributed to farmers in all the seven sub counties in Busia County for free by the National Government with plans in place to distribute more.
At the moment there are five demo farms in Busia County. They are in Teso North, Teso South, Nambale, Butula and Matayos sub counties with more expected to come up in the next planting season. The Busia county department of agriculture encourages farmers to intercrop cotton with legumes to maximize the use of their land. The department adds that the BT cotton farming demonstration will be conducted in three seasons with farmers encouraged to visit them for participatory selection of the best variety to go for once the program is rolled out. According to the county, Mulwanda and other ginneries are undergoing revival to provide a ready market for the cotton.