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ABU Scientist Develops Pod Resistant Cowpea Variety, To Save Country N16.2bn Annually

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One of the main research efforts of the Institute for Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria over the last 10 years which has been to combat the menace of a destructive insect called Maruca pod borer that affects cowpea production in Nigeria and cause up to 80% yield loss in cowpea fields, has yielded result.

The lead research scientist. Professor Muhammad Fagus Ishiyaku who made the disclosure at a press conference said, “the total benefit to the country as a result of savings from reduced insecticide usage, if the variety is grown on one million hectare out of the 3.8 million hectare planted  cowpeas in Nigeria translates to over N16.2 billion annually.

” The benefits of this variety to Nigerian farmers and consumers is that, instead of 8 sprays of insecticides, this new variety canmbe produced with only 2 sprays , thereby saving the farmers around 4-6 sprays. The variety has about 20% inherent yield advantage over many of the conventional cowpea varieties.

According to Professor Fagus, the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of (ABU), Zaria, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to deploy science and technology in growing the economy produced a variety of Cowpea that is Pod Borer Resistant (PBR), which has potentials of saving Nigeria N16bn annually and making the nation as one of the highest producer of seed crop in the world.

“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.

Professor Fagus argued 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 also stated 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 one-fifth more yields to farmers, with financial value pegged at about N48 billion Naira.

“The agency that has responsibility is National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) which after studying the result, is convinced that the new variety is 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.

He however assured that they are not charging anything for developing the variety, but seed producers would charge for the production when selling to farmers.

“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.

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