By Morton Sibale – Mana.
Malawi now stands to save thousands in foreign exchange as the country no longer needs to send to South Africa or Zimbabwe samples of various products for Living Modified Organism (LMO) testing.
This follows the launch of two centres for LMO testing services locally at Chitedze Research Station and the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) Bunda campus.
The launch of the testing services was presided over by Minister of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo at Chitedze Agricultural Research Station in Lilongwe on Thursday.
The launch of the services at the two centres follows various interventions undertaken to strengthen the capacity of laboratory and the biotechnology laboratory staff to adequately undertake the testing services.
Tembo expressed hope that the launch of the services in the country would help ensure safety to the environment and human health as well as help the country saves money that is otherwise spent on outsourcing the services outside the country.
“These services will accelerate the testing of GMO and LMO products. With these services available locally, we no longer need to send samples outside for testing. This helps out traders who export products outside as it save time and money,” she said.
The Minister said the country was losing in outsourcing such services outside thereby empowering foreign professionals at the expense of local ones whom the country has spent a lot on to train to perform similar services but were being underutilized.
“Let me appeal to all stakeholders that require LMO testing services to use the facilities in the country. I would also like to call for increased investment in research so that we fully utilize our professionals and develop our methods,” Tembo said.
Senior Deputy Director at the Department of Agriculture Research Services at Chitedze, Dr. Ketulo Salipira said the facility would open to the public would go a long way in saving time and money.
“Our traders were being made to wait before selling their products because they were required to send samples to South Africa or Zimbabwe for GMO/LMO certification.
This required a lot of money as it involved the use of forex. With this launch, private companies will now be able to conduct their business efficiently,” he said.
Quton Malawi Executive Director, John Lungu said the facility will greatly help business people in the country.
“It was taking us months to have results of our samples sent back to us. For example, on average, it would cost us in excess of USD10 thousand to send seed samples to Zimbabwe every year. With the coming of this facility, we will be able to save money and export our products as quickly as possible,” he said.
The LMO testing services at Chitedze and LUANAR have been financially and technically supported by RAEIN Africa, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility.
Once fully operational, the testing services at the two centres envisages to promote and facilitate local and international trade in agricultural products, improve surveillance on intended, accidental and non-approved Genetically Modified crop varieties and animal breeds and help preserve the purity of some breeds.