.cowpea

By Bashir Bello, KANO

The Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello Zaria, Prof. Mohammad Ishiyaku on Tuesday said with the unveiling of a new cowpea variety (SAMPEA 20-T), Nigeria stands to save N21 billion annually used for importation of chemical insecticides used in the production of beans in the country.

Prof. Ishiyaku made this known during the unveiling of the variety also known as SAMPEA 20-T in Kano on Tuesday,.

He said the new beans variety has the ability to protect itself against the destructive effect of a Pod boring insect which has been known to cost up to 80% yield lost on farmers field.

The new cowpea variety, SAMPEA 20-T, was developed by scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in collaboration with international partners under our coordination at AATF.

Prof. Ishiyaku who is the principal investigator for the Pod Borer Resistant project that bred the new variety said the yield increase from SAMPEA 20-T is estimated to be 46 Billion Naira every year if one million Hectares of our land is grown to this variety.

According to him, “The economic benefit of this variety ranges from the savings our country will make from the excessive use of chemical insecticides which are imported from abroad thereby saving for us foreign exchange. It is estimated that between 17 to 21 Billion Naira will be saved annually from the reduction of use of chemicals insecticide in the production of Beans in our fields by planting this new variety instead of the non-resistant one. The new variety, SAMPEA 20 -T has the ability to protect itself against the destructive effect of a Pod boring insect which has been known to cost up to 80% yield lost on farmers field.

“Additionally, this new variety has yield margin of between 15 to 25% compared to conventional varieties currently in cultivation by farmers. The total benefit from the yield increase from SAMPEA 20T is estimated to be 46 Billion Naira every year if one million Hectares of our land is grown to this variety.

“We called on government and the organised private sector to invest hugely in research, that the result will significantly turn around our economy. This is one area were research has contributed immensely to the solving of food security problem. Cultivation of this new variety by our farmers will therefore reduce the cost Cowpea in our market which has skyrocketed in recent time. This will no doubt expand access to this protein-rich food material contributing to enhanced nutrition among our populace, especially in children.

“We commended AATF for the logistical and financial support for the calumniation of around fifteen (15) years of scientific research leading to the development of the variety,” Prof. Ishiyaku said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono represented by the Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Mustapha Abdullahi expressed optimism that with the improvement in agricultural productivity millions of people will be taken out of food insecurity and low-income status to food secured and improved living standards.

“Agriculture is the singular most important sector that can transform the economy of our great country to meet the growing demands for food, nutrition, industry and jobs. The population of Nigeria presently stands at 200 Million and it is one the fastest growing in the world. In 2050, these populations will double and Nigeria’s population will be 450 Million. This in-balance between agricultural productivity and the population growth rates resulted in widespread food insecurity and poverty, which were evident through numerous civil unrests experienced in the country and in Africa as a whole.

“Increase in agricultural productivity is the key determinant for socio-economic transformation and thus livelihood improvements in Nigeria. Improvement in agricultural productivity takes millions of people out of food insecurity and low-income status to food secured and improved living standards.

“This discovery has keyed perfectly into our desire to promote quick or early maturing crops in order to best the effect of COVID 19 pandemic so as to promote large scale stable food production,” Nanono said.

Similarly, the Minister of Science & Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, represented by the Executive Secretary, ARCN, Prof. G. Sharubutu said with the new discovery, Nigeria is now among league of nations using science and technology to solve her own challenges, especially in agriculture.

“It is therefore obvious that if Nigeria, given its natural endowments, is to successfully transform its economy and take her rightful place in the comity of nations, Science and Technology and its integration in national socio-economic development processes must be accorded the highest priority,” Onu said.

Unveiling the new variety, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje represented by the Secretary to the Kano State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji said the launching of the new beans variety in Kano is timely and apt considering the fact that the State is the leading producer of some of the major cash crops in this country including cowpea (beans).

“The decline in agricultural productivity has very grave consequences for us as a country, agriculture is one of the main occupations of our people and it employs hundreds of thousands across the nation and contribute significantly to the country’s GDP but the case is not so today. Today, agricultural productivity is at its low ebb ever, with farmers spending very scarce resources in controlling pests, insects and managing the degrading soil fertility using fertilizer,” the Governor stated.

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