Tanzania’s confined field trials of genetic modified maize is showing promise. The crop has reportedly shown signs of withstanding stem borer and fall armyworm attacks this year, which marks 2 years since the beginning of the trials.
The confined field trials (CFT), which started in April 2016, are located in the semiarid area of Makutupora in Dodoma Region. The Dodoma region was selected so as to assess the potential of maize varieties to produce high yields in semi-arid conditions.
According to Senior Agricultural Research Officer, Dr. Justin Ringo, the genetic modified organism (GMO) maize is going to benefit Tanzanian farmers. However, this is only if the government reviews laws and regulations to allow the commercialization of Biotech maize seed in the country.
In order to ensure that maize is attacked by pests, 20 stem borers of maize were introduced twice (3 and 5 weeks after planting). In addition, he said, another experiment involving infected maize and spraying seven times to control pest damage, where the evaluation of the amount of pests made by insects was held on the 1st and 2nd of October this year (7th week after planting). Transgenic hybrids showed higher yields to 8.3 -58.0 per cent than their conventional counterparts.
Dr Ringo pointed out that the trial was in the final stage of tests of both drought tolerant and insect (stem borer) where the technology will continue with other procedures, by adhering to all laws and regulations before commercialization. The Senior Researcher added that both insect resistant and herbicide tolerant crops have helped to improve yields, cut costs, and enable more targeted pesticide applications.
Ideally, the GMO seeds not only improve farmers’ bottom lines, but also help lessen agriculture’s impact on the environment. He also pointed out that overall, pesticide applications have decreased, largely due to the adoption of insect-resistant genetically modified crops.