Nigeria, Ghana to collaborate on agricultural biotechnology

NIgeria and Ghana are to collaborate on Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea with a view to further enhancing scientific bilateral collaboration for a “New Africa.”

Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, stated this when 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 agency in Abuja.

He told the delegation that biotechnology has proven its potentials to help Nigeria overcome agricultural productivity challenges leading to more yield (eg, 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 said with 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: Tremendous Yield, Quick Harvest, Bumper Harvest, non-shattering, good cooking characteristics.”

Speaking on the economic importance of the PBR cowpea, Professor Mustapha stated a 20 percent yield increase per hectare translates to N48bn annually N120, 000. per ton.

He said N16. 2bn could be saved annually with reduction of insecticide spray requirement from 6-8 liters per hectare to 2-3 liters per hectare and reduction in production cost per hectare if the 3 million hectares planted

“Farmers in African countries cannot attain the yield potentials of our popular legumes when compared to other parts of the world. While farmers in the Americas, West and Asia are getting over 10 tons per hectare for maize, our farmers are still struggling to attain 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 proven again 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,” he said.

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