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Published On: Tue, Mar 11th, 2014

Nigerian plant breeders target 3 years on BT cowpea

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By Mohammed Kandi

In an effort to end the era of low-yield in cowpea production due to disease attacks, some Nigerian scientists are aiming at additional three years to deliver to farmers the Maruca resistant cowpea.

The Maruca resistant cowpea is currently being developed through Bio-technology (BT) engineered process by scientist at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.

Lead Genetist/Plant breeder at the Institute, Prof. Mohammed Faguji Ishiyaku said recently at the institute, while speaking with journalists sponsored by the Bioscience for Farming in Africa (B4FA), that the effort had reached at least 70 percent success.

Prof. Ishiyaku also noted that farmers will only begin to benefit from the on-going effort if the Nigerian government passed into law the Bio-safety bill.

The Plant breeder, who explained the danger of pests and diseases in crops and to the farmer, informed that his Institute had commenced research on Maruca resistant cowpea in 2009.

According to him, the planting of GM crops, except for BT cotton in Burkina-Faso, is first of its kind in West African sub-region, and certainly the first in Nigeria.

He said: “Consistently, for four years of our multi-location field trials, we identified two genotypes…we have to do the testing in Kano- Minjibir, Bakura and in Samaru, and each of the trials show some specific characteristic.”

Prof. Ishiyaku also said there was no need for Nigerians to entertain fear on Genetically Modified (GM) crops, saying, “If BT engineered maize, soya beans are being consumed in different parts of the world and nothing bad happened to the people, it shows that the crops are safe for consumption, except we are saying that Nigerians are lesser human beings, which we are not.”

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