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Gates Foundation supports Kano with pest-resistant Cowpea seeds

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is supporting Kano State with pest-resistant Cowpea seeds to boost production of the crop and its seeds in the state.

Cowpea
Cowpea

Lawrence Kent, the Senior Programme Officer of the foundation, headquartered in Seattle, United States, said this while addressing newsmen at a project review workshop on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, in Kano.

The event was organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Kent said that the foundation was in Kano to support the pest-resistant cowpea project, which was an effort led by the Nigerian government working with the AATF.

“This is to bring the new improved insect-resistant cowpea to Nigeria in collaboration with the institute of agricultural research and other projects.

“This project will ensure the development of improved cowpea variety that is resistant to pests.

“As a result, farmers who plant this cowpea will be able to achieve high yield with less dependence on pesticides because the product itself is insect resistant.

“So, we at BMGF are proud to provide some financial support to our partners here in Nigeria who are now working to reproduce the seeds.

“The foundation seed and the breeder seed and most importantly, the certified seed is being produced by eleven different Nigerian seed companies.

“We are supporting them to produce the quality seeds and make it available to Nigerian farmers, so they can improve their yields, reduce dependence on pesticides and improve their livelihoods,” the BMGF official said.

The Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture, Danjuma Mahmud, said the state was ready to embrace decisions reached at the end of the workshop that would boost production and enhance cowpea seeds.

Mahmud, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Sadi Ibrahim, said: “I am here for the workshop holding here in Kano on pest-resistant cowpea seeds.

“It is a welcome development that this workshop is taking place here because it is an agrarian state. So, we are part of anything that has to do with agriculture.

“Whatever the outcome of this meeting, we are going to take it and work with it.

“We will sensitise our farmers on the new technology developed through this variety, so that they can adopt the cultivation of that variety for increased food production and ultimately food security in the state,” he said.

According to the commissioner, the state government is doing a lot to ensure availability of high-quality seeds for its farmers.

“One of the ways we are trying to achieve this, is through what we call seed multiplication in our ministry of agriculture and Kano State Agricultural Development Authority.

“The Kano State Agricultural Development Authority is where we procure some seeds from the national institutes that are responsible for these productions.

“We produce these certified seeds, which we ultimately distribute to our farmers at subsidised rates.

“Currently, there is an effort by this administration to sanitise the seed industries that are operating in the state.

“Towards this, we are making serious efforts in collaboration with the National Agricultural Council and the State Consumer Production Council to ensure our farmers and the general public are sensitised on high quality seeds,” Mahmud said.

Also, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, the Director, Programme Development and Commercialization, AATF, described Nigeria as the largest producer of cowpea in the world, followed by its neighbour, Niger Republic.

Okogbenin said that, however, the country still needed to make up its demand by importing the product from Niger Republic, meaning that there was underproduction.

He said that cowpea could be planted all over Nigeria, adding that challenges varied from state to state.

He said that with the enhancement of the cowpea seeds, more tons could be produced per hectare as against 0.2 per hectare that was currently obtainable.

“This has so far been increased to 0.6 per hectare and 0.8 per hectare, which is still not enough to satisfy the national demand with a population of 200 million Nigerians,” he said.

By Aminu Garko

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