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AATF solicits Emir of Rano’s support for PBR Cowpea, launches handbook on seed production

In what looks like a proactive move to garner support and advocacy for the adoption of Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, a delegation led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has engaged in a strategic meeting with the Emir of Rano, Ambassador Kabiru Muhammad Inwua.

Emir of Rano
The Emir of Rano, Amb. Kabiru Muhammad Inuwa flanked on the right by AATF Regional Representative, Dr Jean Baptiste, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, and on the left by Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, NAERLS Executive Director

The meeting, held at the Emir’s Palace in Rano, aimed to solicit his support in promoting the uptake of PBR Cowpea, a genetically modified crop designed to withstand the devastating impact of pests and enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria.

The leader of the delegation, Dr Jean Baptiste, AATF Regional Representative for West Africa, said that cowpea, a staple crop in Nigeria, plays a crucial role in addressing food security and nutritional needs, particularly in rural communities.

“However, the crop is often plagued by the devastating impact of pests, notably the Maruca vitrata, which can cause significant yield losses if left unchecked,” he added.

Baptiste said that, to address the pest challenges, AATF and partners have developed PBR cowpea varieties engineered to resist the destructive effects of the pod borer, offering a sustainable solution to improve yields and enhance farmer livelihoods.

He therefore solicited the support of the Emir in championing its adoption within the emirate, saying that the crop has the potentials of improving the livelihood of farmers due to its prolific nature.

Dr Baptiste emphasised the role of the PBR Cowpea in reducing pesticide use, increasing yields, and improving food security for rural households. He also noted that rigorous scientific research and regulatory processes was undertaken to ensure the safety and efficacy of genetically modified crops, assuring the Emir of the integrity and reliability of PBR cowpea varieties.

In response, the Emir commended AATF for its dedication to advancing agricultural technologies that benefit smallholder farmers and rural communities.

He reiterated his commitment to supporting initiatives that promote sustainable agricultural practices and enhance the resilience of local food systems. Moreover, the Emir pledged his full support for the promotion and adoption of PBR cowpea within the Rano Emirate.

In a related development, the AATF, in a concerted effort to bolster agricultural productivity across Africa, has unveiled a comprehensive handbook designed to provide guidance to seed companies in field operations and the production of high-quality seeds.

The landmark initiative aims to equip seed producers with the necessary knowledge and best practices to optimise seed production processes, ultimately enhancing agricultural yields and food security on the continent.

The handbook, titled “Stewardship Handbook for producers of Foundation and Certified Seeds of PBR Cowpea,” represents a culmination of AATF’s commitment to promoting sustainable agricultural development through the adoption of innovative technologies and capacity-building initiatives.

Dr Danjuma Mahmoud, Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture, unveiled the handbook in Kano during the Annual Project Review and Workshop for the PBR Cowpea Seed Support for Nigeria.

Dr Mahmoud, who was represented by Alhaji Sadi Ibrahim, Permanent Secretary, Kano State Ministry of Agriculture, noted that the handbook was tailored to address the unique challenges faced by seed companies operating in diverse agro-ecological contexts across Africa.

He said that advancing agricultural technologies that tackle the emerging concern over climate change requires collaborations, partnership and documented knowledge to guide operators at all levels of the delivery chain, hence the relevance of the handbook produced by AATF.

In a remark, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, AATF Director of Program Development and Commercialisation, said that the AATF PBR Cowpea Seed Support project aims to drive the supply chain of cowpea in Nigeria and to make it efficient and useful.

“The project will invariably contribute to strengthening food and nutrition security in the country,” he said.

He acknowledges the contributions of various partners including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the successes recorded by the project in the last planting season, adding that with a well-coordinated partnership, farmers on the African continent would soon overcome the challenges facing agricultural productivity.

A representative of BMGF, Lawrence Kent, said that the Seed Support project was designed to improve seed production and that seed companies have vital roles to play in ensuring that the project attained its objective.

“The ultimate goal of the support is to improve farmers productivity and livelihood,” he added.

Dr Francis Onyekachi, AATF’ Stewardship Manager, said that the primary objectives of the handbook are to streamline field operations throughout the seed production cycle, from land preparation and planting to crop maintenance, harvesting, and post-harvest handling.

“By providing step-by-step guidelines and best practices for each stage of the production process, seed companies can optimise resource utilisation, minimise production risks, and ensure the production of genetically pure and high-performing seeds,” he said.

The handbook emphasises the importance of adherence to quality assurance protocols and regulatory standards to uphold seed quality and integrity. With a focus on maintaining genetic purity, disease resistance, and seed viability, seed producers are empowered to meet the stringent quality requirements of farmers, regulatory agencies, and international markets.

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