By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Institute of Agricultural Research, Ahmsdu Bello University, Zaria, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to deploy science and technology in growing the economy has produced a variety of Cowpea that is Pod Borer Resistant (PBR), which has potentials of saving Nigeria N16bn annually.
This was disclosed during a press briefing by the Lead Scientist Pod Borer Resistance (PBR) Cowpea, Professor Ishaku Mohammed Fagus at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria on Thursday June 13, 2019.
“Economic benefits to Nigeria from one million hectares of crop, will translate to over N16.2bn Naira annually,” he said.
He explained that such monies could be saved from spraying insecticide to prevent Pod Borer from the crops.
“It was developed to protect itself from Pod Borer. Farmers can grow crop without the normal insecticide sprayed ranging between five to eight times,” he stressed.
He said that besides been expensive at between N1,200 and N1,500 per litre the insecticides are toxic and dangerous to humans and environment.
The researcher said that benefit of the new specie to farmers is that instead of eight sprays, new variety can be produced by farmers with two sprays, saving cost of between four to six sprays.
He emphasized that the economic benefits could go even go beyond N16bn, as absence of insects can give 1\5 more yields to farmers, with financial value pegged at about N48bn.
“This variety has potentials of giving our farmers, 20 per cent more yield.
“Varieties developed through genetic modification engineering approach must be regulated and scientists must show evidence that this new variety developed to be safe.
“The agency that has responsibility is National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
“The agency after studying the result, is convinced that the new variety its worthiness for food and is exactly the same with other safe varieties, after they examined it In February 2019.
“Though this variety is even developed with new technique, the agency is convinced that no issues have been recorded, except that it has advantage of protecting itself from insects.
“The result was corroborated by farmers.
“Even though NBMA granted control, FG put in another control that new crops have to go through test of National Variety Regulatory Committee.
“We shall provide clear advantages associated with this variety and by December, after release completed, seeds multiplied and by 2020 it would be disseminated commercially through seeds producing companies,” he said.
He further explained that the National Seeds Council has laws in terms of exerting control on seeds so that Nigerian farming is not grounded to a halt by greedy seed producing companies.
He revealed that already farmers who have heard about this are anxiously waiting to plant them.
“After a presentation that I did, I mistakenly gave my phone number instead of the agency’s and woke up to about 200 calls missed on my phone, farmers calling and asking how they can get the seeds.”
He however assured that they are not charging anything for developing the variety, but seed producers would charge for the production when selling to farners.
“We stand no personal benefit than seeing the product of our intellect benefiting Nigeria and Africans.
The seeds can be replanted. Once a farmer gets it, it can be replanted. Seeds is different from grains. Grains is what we buy from the market. If you buy grain from the market and use it as seed, you will have contamination. You can store grain anywhere, because it would be cooked, would not affect its value.
He said the variety was developed in partnership with AATF, USADIS, ARCN, CSIRO and FAB.