The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has disclosed that it would commence the trial of the pod borer resistant cowpea this season, ahead of the commercialisation of the new variety.
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) had granted an environment release of PBR cowpea which was developed by the Institute of Agriculture Research (IAR), Zaria, and the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF).
Regional coordinator of the African Agriculture Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr Issoufou Abdourrahman Kolo, who made this known in an interview with LEADERSHIP in Abuja, yesterday, said the trials would be held in all agroecology zones in Nigeria from the Sahel to the humid forest to see how the cowpea would perform, noted that the trial would be in more than 12 locations this season.
Kolo while noting that the foundation would also go on farmers field to test the cowpea and test it with real farmers, he said they would be organising field day for everybody to see how the cowpea grows.
He stated that Nigerian cowpea farmers would be trained on how best to plant the new variety, while the seed companies would be trained on seed multiplication.
On what to expect from the new variety, he said, “Wherever Maruca Vitrata is a very big problem, what we expect is to get a tremendous yield. To boost cowpea production. People don’t know what is going on in agriculture market, we are not talking about a small money, we are talking about hundreds of millions of naira per year saved in this country and injected into the economy at the farmers level.
“Wherever Maruc is a problem, the minimum yield you can increase is 50 per cent in that area with the new cowpea. So it is not academic business, it is an economic problem that we are facing, and we want to solve it, it is a serious economic problem.
“Nigeria is the largest importer of cowpea in the subregion, many people don’t know, they think Nigeria doesn’t import food from the surrounding countries, but Nigeria does import a lot of food to surrounding countries, it exports, but it also imports. Nigeria is the biggest market for cowpea for neighboring countries.
“The PBR cowpea has been granted environmental release which means that the agency in charge has sat down and looked at the cowpea and confirmed that it is safe for human consumption and animal consumption, and also poses no danger to the environment,” he said.