Rwanda can say no to GM crops and be food secure

Editor,  REFER TO Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “Farmers need insurance to mitigate losses” (Sunday Times, February 16).

Editor, 

REFER TO Kenneth Agutamba’s article, “Farmers need insurance to mitigate losses” (Sunday Times, February 16).

It seems everywhere one turns these days; one is confronted with signs of an insidious but determined campaign for Rwanda to adopt genetically modified crops. 

Apart from the fact that I fail to see how our food security can be assured by handing control of our supply of seeds to chemical companies like Monsanto, Syngenta or Dupont who own the patents to those very expensive seeds, Rwanda can achieve much greater yields by improved conventional farming methods and better land use organisation, greater land consolidation, irrigation-fed farming, better extension services, more effective crop-to-soils matching, improved crop rotation, encouraging establishment of small and medium-sized agro-processing companies, links with global production/distribution chains to expand market access for farmers, and improved access to farming inputs as well as markets for farmers. 

Insurance schemes for farmers to smoothen out the inevitable incomes fluctuations would certainly help but there is no reason this has to be tied to Syngenta or any other pusher of GMOs or even improving farm production yields.

India and Thailand farmer suicides are a result of debts and their fear of debt bondage labour for themselves and their offspring when they fail to pay those debts. This is alien to our own culture and is also irrelevant to the debate on the adoption of GMO farming.

In Thailand, farmers and the general rural population (most of whom support the Shinawatra brother and sister and are therefore supporters of the anti-Establishment Red Shirts) are also victims of the polarisation with the mainly pro-Establishment anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirts.

Meanwhile in China, where the author of the article is right now, the Government has halted its take-up of GMOs in order not to hand its food supply into the control of Western chemical multinationals who own the seed patents.

Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda

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