Africa Agri-Biotech Updates: status of research and development on gm crops in Africa, 2011 – Brief 1, November 2012

Africa has made steady progress in planting, regulatory and research on biotech crops. Three countries namely Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa are planting biotech crops commercially while Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria in addition to the latter three are conducting confined field trials (CFTs). Malawi has also approved confined field trials for biotech cotton.

A number of trials focusing on Africa’s pro-poor priority staple crops such as cassava, banana and sweet potato are at an advanced stage. Most of the new trials have paid attention to traits of high relevance to challenges facing Africa such as drought tolerance and nutritional enhancement.

The expanding number of confined field trials is a clear indication that Africa is progressively moving towards placing important food security biotech crops in the market. The vibrant research is taking place either using existing legislation or stand-alone biosafety structures with promising results.