Following field trials, the commercialised genetically modified Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea variety, SAMPEA-20-T, has shown excellent results, according to farmers in Niger and Plateau States.
SAMPEA-20-T was developed locally by the Nigerian Scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira, Kaduna State in partnership with various partners, under the coordination of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
The National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties last year approved the commercialisation of the new cowpea variety. The variety was genetically modified for resistance to Maruca vitrata.
The Bt variety, according to studies, can yield a harvest of up to 2.9 tonnes per hectare after 70 to 75 days of planting, as against the 0.9 to 1 tonne per hectare reaped in 100 to 120 days.
A Daily Trust report revealed that in August, farmers in nine cowpea-producing states (Bauchi, Jigawa, Plateau, Adamawa, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano Zamfara, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory) received the PBR variety for on-farm demonstrations.
The trial plots were managed by the farmers with support and supervision from extension agents in other to ensure farmers follow the specified protocols and good agronomy practices.
To compare the performance of the PBR variety to the traditional ones, in terms of resistance to insects, pests, striga weeds and yields, the farmers were given both varieties (PBR cowpea seed and the traditional seed) to grow.
A cowpea farmer in Mokwa, Niger State, Ahmed Yusuf told Daily Trust that he planted the two varieties on the same day. He revealed that the Bt variety was already budding while the non-PBR cowpea was not close to flowering.
“I planted the two varieties (the PBR and tradition cowpea seeds) on the 15th of August this year. Amazingly, the differences began to manifest from the germination stage.
“Most of the people around me here are attracted to this new PBR variety and are requesting it from me.
“I have been a cowpea farmer for a very long time, but the level of growth and resistant to pests, including striga of the PBR variety, is just amazing,” he said.
An extension officer in the Niger State Agricultural Mechanisation Development Authority, in Mokwa, Usman Hawat Abubakar attached to Yusuf confirmed that a lot of farmers in the town were already requesting the PBR seed.
Another cowpea farmer, Shittu Yellow in Tashan-Hajiya community, Niger State revealed that the PBR variety was superior to the traditional variety.
He said, “I have not seen any variety that can match the PBR cowpea. All the farmers who pass through this area ask me about this variety. Many farmers have been calling me over this; and everyone wants to have it”.
In Plateau State, Gonap Kassam Philip, a 27-year-old graduate of Philosophy from Chigwong village in Pankshin said “PBR variety is wonderful. Germination rate is superb.”
“Other farmers are very anxious to go into this variety because we normally have the problem of serious Maruca infestation with the local variety we have, which makes us spend lots of money on pesticides,” he added.
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