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Nigeria can save N16b yearly from new cowpea variety, says don

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Cowpea

Professor Ishaku Fagus of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, has revealed the production of a cowpea variety that has the potential of saving the country N16 billion pre-harvest losses every year.

According to the don, ABU’s Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s resolve to deploy science and technology in growing the economy, produced a Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) variety of cowpea, which can make the nation one of the highest producers of the seed crop in the world.

During a press conference in ABU at the weekend, the lead research scientist of the PBR Cowpea said: “Economic benefits to Nigeria from one million hectares of the crop will translate to over N16.2 billion yearly.”

Fagus explained that money spent on spraying insecticide to prevent pod-borer from the crops could be saved.

“It was developed to protect itself from pod-borer. Farmers can grow the crop without the normal insecticide sprayed five to eight times,” he stressed.

For the don, the insecticides are expensive (at between N1,200 and N1,500 per litre) and dangerous to humans and the environment.

He emphasised that the economic benefits of the crop could even go beyond N16 billion, as absence of insects could give one-fifth more yields to farmers, with financial value pegged at about N48 billion.

“This variety has the potential of giving our farmers 20 per cent more yield. Varieties developed through genetic engineering approach must be regulated and scientists must show evidence that this new variety developed is safe.

“The agency responsible is National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). After studying the result in February, the agency was convinced that the new variety’s worthiness for food is exactly the same with other safe varieties.

“Though this variety is even developed with new technique, the agency is convinced that no issues has been recorded, except that it has advantage of protecting itself from insects. Farmers corroborated the result.

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