Open Forum for Agriculture and Bio-technology (OFAB) through The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) organized a workshop for journalists on science reporting which was held on 1st June,2023 in Lilongwe, the 9th June 2023 in Mzuzu and 14th June,2023. Part of the training was sharing some of the reasons Biotech adoption is low to lack of Communication concern shared by experts. Biotechnology is the use of biology to solve problems and make useful products. It can be used in a variety of fields, including agriculture, medicine, and environmental protection.

Dr Abel Sefasi, a senior lecturer at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), one of the trainees said the public has not been provided with adequate and accurate information about biotechnology. According to him, the public including policymakers need to be made aware of the power of biotechnology, in terms of solving real problems for the country. Malawi is reliant on agriculture and the moment there are diseases with crops like maize, issues of Cyclones, these challenges cause problems in the yields of the crops they consider having a conversation that will make people realize that there are advantages of biotechnology which some farmers are already enjoying in cotton

Malawi cotton farmers are benefiting from genetically modified variety BT-cotton as it has improved farmers’ yields. He said, since the introduction of Biotech cotton, the yields for farmers who adopted the seed have increased to 800 kilograms per hectare from 400 kilograms per hectare and this is a big improvement.

Stating 90 percent of the cotton produced through this technology and farmers are having high yields of cotton from the technology. they are looking forward to achieve other benefits that they have seen in other countries. For example, they want maize to be drought tolerant and to be able to fight insects.

The science of genetic engineering has solved problems in crops such as maize and soya bean because farmers are able to grow crops in an environment where there is a lot of insects and the crops can grow without being affected by the insects. It is unfortunate, that there is a low rate of adopting biotechnology in the country due to poor communication, Said Dr Sefasi.

The National Biosafety Registrar under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Lilian Chimphepo, mentioned that the low adoption rate is due to a lack of research.

“We depend on scientists and researchers to bring technology to us so that we can regulate it to see if it is safe for the environment and if it is good for consumption, to see the safety of people and livestock. She pointed out that only one genetically modified crop, BT cotton, has been approved for commercialization by the general public, and farmers are now growing the crop.

“So far, we have only adopted one GM crop which is BT-cotton in 2019 and now farmers are actually growing the crops. Researchers, scientists once they bring the technology, that’s our job to regulate to see the safety, to consider the safety issues for the environment as well as safety issues for consumption for the health of people and also livestock.” Said Chimphepo.

To conclude Lilian, encouraged scientists in the country to submit applications on varieties of crops as they need to have more applications from scientists and then they see if their applications are good.