Many farmers in sub-Saharan Africa suffer heavily from crop losses due to stem borer pests. Insecticides are often unaffordable; therefore, maize plants must be made resistant to pests. The ‘Insect Resistant Maize for Africa’ (IRMA) project in Kenya was aimed at developing new maize varieties both by conventional methods and by biotechnologically incorporating the endotoxin produced by the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
The author gives an impartial and chronological account of this exemplary project between 1999 and 2008, supplemented by discussions of agricultural development policy and descriptions of Kenyan smallholders and the project team. He also takes critical and rational positions on the use of modern plant breeding techniques, biotechnology and development policy.
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