A delegation from Ghana led by the Chairman Parliamentary Select Committee on Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Dr. Emmanuel Marfor, and the Ranking Member, Parliamentary Select Committee on MESTI, Prof. Ebenezer Okletey Terlarbi, visited the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), in Abuja to deliberate on the partnership.
Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of NABDA told the delegation that biotechnology has proven its potentials to help Nigeria overcome agricultural productivity challenges leading to more yield (e.g., 2.9 tons /hectare of Bt cowpea from 350kg of non-Bt cowpea) and addressing various breeding limitations that conventional breeding method cannot address.
“The PBR Cowpea is a classic example of how the technology can provide solutions to one of the major challenges confronting cowpea farming. Needless, I bother you with the long history of several attempts by cowpea breeders who tried to find solutions to ravaging attacks of Maruca for many years without success in the past.
“This technology has taken care of that and its potentials to improve other crops have started emerging. Farmers in Nigeria are excited with the performance of this new variety and giving testimonies,” he said.
The DG noted that the commercialization, adoption and use of this new variety of cowpea modified to be resistant to insect maruca vitrata, means revolutionizing Nigeria’s Food Production.
Speaking on the economic importance of the PBR cowpea, Professor Mustapha stated a 20 percent yield increase per hectare translates to N48bn (USD 115782614.40) annually and N120, 000. (USD 289.46) per ton.
With the reduction of pesticide application from 6-8 liter per hectare to 2-3 litre per hectare and a drop in production cost, up to N16. 2bn (USD 39076632.36) could be saved annually.
In comparison to other parts of the world, farmers in African countries are still unable to attain the yield potentials of their popular legumes. Whereas farmers in the Americas, West and Asia can harvest over 10 tons per hectare for maize, African farmers are still lagging behind attaining only 4 tons per hectare.
“The place of science, technology and innovation in our quest for development in all sectors of the economy cannot be over emphasized. The feat attained with the development and commercialization of the PBR Cowpea has again proven that if determined, Africa has what it takes to solve its challenges.
“Remember that it is about food and nutritional security, wellbeing of our farmers, improved income, less use of chemical sprays for environmental sustainability,” Mustapha said.