The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have concluded plans for on-farm demonstrations of the new genetically modified pod borer-resistant (PBR) cowpea variety, commercialized as SAMPEA -20-T.
IAR Executive Director, Ishiyaku Mohammed, disclosed that they are soliciting farmers across the country to plant the cowpea on their plots, thus enabling them to gain firsthand knowledge of PBR cowpea and test its ability to deliver on the promises made by scientists.
The PBR Cowpea Project is a public-private partnership that brings leading African and international institutions together to develop and disseminate SAMPEA -20-T for increased productivity.
The partnership led by the AATF with support from the United States Agency for International Development was initiated to develop PBR cowpea (also termed Bt cowpea), which has in-built protection against pod borer damage.
The development of SAMPEA -20-T is a great relief to farmers in Nigeria and Africa since cowpea production is affected by insect pests, especially legume pod borers, which reduces grain yields by up to 80 percent and lower the quality of the grain.,
Alex Abutu, AATF communication officer for West and Central Africa , explained that extension officers and agents who will be involved in trials across nine states of – Bauchi, Jigawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Niger and Abuja – were recently trained at the IAR/ABU.
According to Lawan Umar, the PBR cowpea trial manager, the objective of the planned demonstration is to have a general understanding of the new cowpea variety and to provide an ideal opportunity for cowpea growers to learn about sustainable farming practices for PBR cowpea.
AATF Stewardship Manager, Francis Onyekachi, urged farmers to follow the stewardship program designed for the PBR cowpea to ensure the sustainability and durability of the product.