Cotton farmers in Busia County have been urged to embrace high yielding pest-resistant BT cotton variety if they are to reap big in the coming harvest seasons.
Experts have advised farmers to shift to the new hybrid BT cotton variety from conventional cotton which has up to a 90 percent germination rate over their predecessors that have between 40-45% germination percentages.
According to researchers, BT cotton has been genetically modified to produce a protein that can kill the destructive insects that destroy cotton crops.
BT crops have been shown to reduce pesticide use. The hybrid variety contains traits for drought tolerance, which can help increase productivity on farms by an estimated 10%.
Dr Charles Waturu, a lead scientist for BT Cotton research observed that the number of bolls realized from the fields is almost the same as what farmers are reporting that they arrived at during their research that recorded more than 40 bolls per plant.
Christopher Nduguli, one of the cotton farmers in Bukiri, Samia Sub County stated that the new BT variety has shown promising yield with capability of producing at least 80 bolls per plant.
Nduguli, a cotton farmer for the past 20 years, said this variety is pest resistant acknowledging that he sprayed only sprayed once as a routine.
Stakeholders are now in negotiation with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KARLO) to start some trials to capacity build farmers to start producing hybrid seeds locally.
This will also ensure farmers are aware of what is involved in the production of hybrid cotton seeds and reduce importation of more seeds.