The Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University (IAR/ABU) Zaria and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have concluded arrangements for nationwide on-farm demonstrations to raise farmer awareness on the new genetically modified Pod Borer Resistant cowpea variety, commercialised as SAMPEA-20-T.
The demonstration trials will be managed solely by farmers on their plots and supervised by government extension agents to ensure that the farmers follow laid down protocols.
Farmers and extension officers and agents who will be involved in the trials from nine states of Bauchi, Jigawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Zamfara, Niger and Abuja were trained on the demonstration protocols during a one-day PBR Cowpea demonstration trial training that was held at IAR/ABU at the weekend.
During the training, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR/ABU, said that the nationwide demonstration is the platform through which farmers across Nigeria will have firsthand knowledge and test the ability of PBR Cowpea to deliver on the promises made by scientists.
Prof. Mohammed said that having worked with farmers for many years, he knows that they trust scientists but if the promise is not delivered, they will jettison the product and promoter.
“It is based on this knowledge that we are bringing in the farmers to plant the cowpea themselves so that they can experience what we have been talking about. This trial is to get the buy-in of farmers who have waited for many years for this technology,” said Prof Ishiyaku.
He called for constant interaction between farmers and plant breeders, noting that, through such interactions, most of the challenges facing farmers and their farming could be addressed.
Dr Lawan Umar, the PBR cowpea Trial Manager, said that the objective of the demonstration is to have a general understanding of the new cowpea variety and to provide an ideal opportunity for cowpea growers to learn about sustainable farming practices for PBR cowpea.
“It is important to train farmers on the basic techniques needed to grow PBR cowpea (SAMPEA-20-T) for maximum yield, equip participating Extension Agents on proper ways of guiding farmers on field management of PBR cowpea and equip both farmers and Extension Agents on the stewardship for PBR cowpea,’’ said Umar.
Dr Francis Onyekachi, AATF Stewardship Manager, urged the farmers to follow the stewardship programme designed for the PBR Cowpea. According to him, the stewardship plan for a product incorporates responsible and ethical management of that product throughout its lifecycle.
“Complying with the stewardship plan is a task for everyone and it is designed to ensure benefits for both the technology owner and grower. The objective is sustainability and durability of a product lifespan,” he said.
The nationwide demonstration trial is meant to produce both foundation and certified seed. The seed companies participating in the seed multiplication programme will be able to use the foundation seed produced to grow sufficient seeds for farmers to use during the 2021 farming season.
The one-day meeting attracted more than 53 farmers and extension agents from the selected states and locations.