Biotech #FoodHeroes: Gilbert Arap Bor

Gilbert Arap Bor

When Gilbert Arap Bor speaks, Kenyan government officials listen.

They’re well aware that Bor, who grew up on his parent’s farm in Kenya’s “breadbasket” Uasin Gishu County, is well-versed in all aspects of agriculture: food production, marketing and farmer education.

So when Bor persisted in writing opinion pieces urging his government to give farmers access to genetically modified (GM) seeds to grow, it had an impact. In late 2019, Kenya finally approved its first GM crop — insect-resistant Bt cotton.

Bor, who raises maize, vegetables, and dairy cows, sees biotechnology as key to helping his community retain its status as “the place to be” because it has achieved food security.

“Socially, biotechnology has freed many of the world’s people from the scourge of hunger by driving higher food production, enabling many countries to feed not just their own populations, but have enough left over to export to other countries in need,”

But Bor knows that improved seeds are only part of the story. To succeed, farmers also need mechanization, education, funding and a means to get their product to market and earn a good return on their investment, he says.

To that end, Bor led the formation of the Chepkatet Farmers’ Co-operative Society, which ensures that smallholder farmers in his community receive regular farm inputs, as well as food production training. He also helped them market their milk, which generated sufficient extra income to build a school for 450 children.

“We now have highly educated young people within the community, many of whom have been absorbed into employment in various parts of the country and the world,” Bor says.