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Bananas and the Bible: Biotechnology, the Catholic Church and Rural Development in Kenya

Bompani, B   Smith, J

International Journal of Religion and Society   4 (1-2) 1-16

January 2013

Churches, including the Catholic Church, have always acted as development nodes
in East Africa. Based on first-hand research, this article aims to offer an analysis on Christian churches in development work and to show the way churches become vehicles for new ideas and practices in contemporary Kenya. In particular this paper examines the role churches have played in promoting new types of agricultural technologies, including precursors of biotechnologies. Focussing on the Catholic Diocese in Embu District, Kenya, and its work in promoting and disseminating the use of tissue culture banana technologies, this article shows how, within the contested and political discourse around biotechnology, the church negotiated their own ethical and theological system and their more pragmatic work as a proper ‘secular’ development organization.