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Kano farmers list benefits of genetically modified beans

Farmers in Tudun Wada in Kano State have expressed joy at the release of the new Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea, saying it makes farming less expensive compared with the local varieties.

Cowpea
Cowpea

Some of the farmers spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the sideline of the Brown Field Day for the demonstration plot of the improved cowpea variety (SAMPEA-20-T) with resistance Pob Borer Insect Maruca Varata on Sunday, November 8, 2020.

Malam Khalid Salihu, one of the farmers, said he was happy with the outcome of the new improved variety, pointing out that it is cost effective as it resists insects that destroy the beans.

He said that he spends less planting PBR Cowpea compared to planting the local variety.

Salihu said that, on a hectare of beans, he saves over N20,000 as he only sprays the beans twice unlike the other variety that he sprays up to eight times.

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“I am happy with this new beans. It matures early more than the local varieties. In 56 to 70 days one can harvest unlike the local cowpeas that will stay till 90 days.

“I spend less money on buying chemicals to control Pod Borer insect because the GM beans resists the insect,“ he said.

In terms of the Pod, Salihu said they are the same but the PBR Cowpea produces a slightly bigger seed compared to the conventional variety.

Malam Usman Bako, another farmer, said all the farmers in the area are waiting for the GM beans as it reduces stress and yields better unlike the local varieties that is easily destroyed by pod Borer insect.

“I will appeal to farmers to key into it and ensure that as soon as the varieties is available they should get it to plant.

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“What I saw today is making me happy because I know that after we plant this next year we can smile to the bank because we would have saved more money for ourselves and have better yields to sell,” he said.

Dr Ijeoma Akaogu of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) said they are committed to transforming the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through the use of appropriate agricultural technologies that deliver results.

She said that cowpea is a food security crop and  highly nutritive, adding that Nigeria is the largest producer of cowpea in Africa but its production and productivity is restricted by several constraints.

According to her, the legume pod borer insect (Maruca virtas) is an enemy of cowpea farmers because it can cause up to 80 per cent yield loss.

“We are also aware that the control of the insect through the use of chemicals is very difficult and expensive for farmers because of the need to spray eight to 10 times within a planting season.

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“But we are doing everything geared towards improving the productivity and profitability of farmers,” she said.

The Trial Manager of PBR Cowpea, Mohammed Umar, from the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Zaria, explained: “PBR Cowpea was developed using modern technology.

“The scientists tried to find out the resistance to Pod Borer insect, but they couldn’t because there is no way you can develop such variety using conventional means, so that is why we go into using modern technology.

“The gene that confers the resistance to this crop was identified from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis which is harmless,” he said.

By Bukola Adewumi

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