Sun. Jul 5th, 2020


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Why Jean Claude HABIMANA advocates the potential of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) in Africa

HABIMANA Jean Claude in his mother's corn farm.


Being raised in family where every income comes from my mother’s farm, is something hard to forget. My mother told me that farming is not easy, but if you have skills, tools and passion, farming will be easy and profitable.

Even if I was quite small during that time, I do remember the efforts my mother used in our farm in order to get a pretty harvest. Potatoes, Maize (Corn) and beans were the main crops my mother used to cultivate.

My school fees, School uniforms, school insurance, notebooks, pens and shoes and many more were coming from my mother’s harvest. She is the reason who I am today. Her dream was to see me in position where I am helping most vulnerable community in my Village.

I do remember being with her in her green farm while she was grabbing some grasses so that our maize can grow well. It was most beautiful time I am missing until now.

As the days go on, my mother’s farm was no more producing the same harvest we used to get. Climate change, resistant pests and Diseases have swept away all my mother’s harvest. Farming is no longer her option. What else she can do?

Food instability, lack of money, jobless and struggle to pay Health Care Insurance are now the characteristic of my family. Alongside, my family out there are many other households still struggling like my family. Agriculture is becoming harder than ever.

Asking about how fall armyworm has destroyed completely my family and neighbors maize and beans farms, is like asking someone who is breeding if he /she has wound. If you want to see the anger of maize and beans farmers, ask them about the history of fall armyworm in Rwanda between the years 2017-2018. My advice don’t ask.

My neighbor who used to cultivate banana, are the ones who can testify the bad experience of Banana Bacteria Wilt. The mountains I used to see fulfilled with banana (green banana) are now either empty due to banana bacteria wilt or replaced with other crops.

In my home country, Rwanda “banana is symbol of richness”. Over 70% of Rwandans in Eastern Party of the country consume three times per day banana food, and over 80% of value addition on banana generate money such as in beer, juice or fruits.                                                                         

Beyond fall armyworm and banana bacteria wilt, Southern party of Rwanda around in 2015, Cassava Mosaic has left hundreds of thousands in loss. In South, cassava was and still the main crop that generate food and money, but canker, leaf spot and cassava bacterial blight still demolishing hundreds of ha.

You and I, maybe we can’t feel the same pain a farmer feels when he/she cultivates certain acres with the loan from bank or microfinance unfortunately the pest come and destroy all. Who is going to pay back the loan? Where is food going to come from? Health insurance? School fees? Money? Our farmers whom we are relying on survival are suffering than any other person in this world.

In Western party of Rwanda, where farmers grow at large potatoes, bees have reduced completely and bee farmers have already closed their hives or replaced it in other some party of the country. Due to over use of pesticides conserving biodiversity is another big challenge.

It was confirmed that over use of pesticides not only kill the insects include bees, ants, and some birds but also destroy the life of people. (WHO). Imagine the lungs of those people who are using extra pesticides day to day to save their crops while they are demolishing not only themselves but also biodiversity in general.

It has took me almost four years to realize that science can provide long time solution rather than pesticides. Improved seeds with gift to resist climate change (drought), less pesticide, increased yields and save planet, scientists have researched on that over decades and they have come up with solution mainly “Genetically Modified crops” that have above capability to save the world.

Hundreds of researches were undertaken by professionals entitles on risks that may occur when human being, animals or nature have consumed genetically modified crops or planted in environment. Among them, World Health Organization, UN Environment, World Food Programme, and academic entities and universities such as University of Pretoria, University of Nigeria, Cornell University, California University Davis and Harvard Business School to list few. Millions of US Dollars were sent out in many countries around the world to undertake risk assessment, and finally none entity has shown any risk on human, animals consumed GMO or any negative side of GMO in environment.

The results from above entity have led many African countries adopt genetically modified crops. By example, South Africa has been growing BT corn (Bacillus Thuringiensis) since 1996 and today the country has BT cotton and soybeans. Over 20 years, no risk has ever shown by any UN agency on consuming BT Maize or Soybeans in South Africa.

Today, Bangladesh is the country that can give you the testimonies on how BT Brinjal (Eggplant) has left up millions of Bangladeshis from poverty and food instability to the level of food security and exporting. The country adopt this technology after millions of farmers got in loss due to climate change and resistant pests.

Due to interest of certain people especially industries of pesticides, GMO crops have gotten misinterpretation and bad assumptions. Truthful, the pesticides companies know the potential of GMO crops and they are afraid of it. To limit the general public to adopt these agricultural technologies, “Paid people” are coming up every day and they called themselves ACTIVISTS.

Their objective and goals are to mislead people. They don’t want to hear the tears and struggles of our mothers, sisters and brothers who are suffering nights and day due to food instability, pests resistant and diseases. They are outside just making noise and misleading the world and by moth get paid by pesticides companies.

If South Africa, Sudan, America, China, India, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Australia and many other countries have used BT crops to secure their foods, and increase billions of dollars from exports, and no any risk has ever scientifically shown or published that describe the risks of consuming GMO, what are the African countries waiting for? Please hear the evidence from scientists and see tears and agony from our farmers and take right decision that benefit our farmers.

Author: Jean Claude Habimana




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