Kenya is about to import its first GM maize, the cabinet secretary for commerce said, as the government tries to ease food shortages caused by the country’s worst drought in 40 years.

Kenya will allow tax-free imports of 10 million bags of maize over the next six months on Friday and include genetically modified maize for the first time, local media reported.

The imports will be the first since President William Ruto last month lifted a decade-long ban on the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops, which authorities hope will improve crop yields and food security as millions face hunger.

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Over the next six months, 10 million bags of maize will be imported into Kenya. Pictured: Villager Caroline is seen in a withered cornfield amid a historically devastating drought in Kidemu sub-locality in Kilifi County, Kenya on March 23, 2022.
(Dong Jianghui/Xinhua via Getty Images)

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“In view of the food situation in the country, I will sign instruments to allow duty-free import of GMO (Genetically Modified) and non-GMO maize for the next 6 months,” Secretary Moses Kuria said on Twitter.

Annual rainfall has failed in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia for the past four seasons, forcing 1.5 million people from their homes in search of water and food elsewhere.

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