After years of research, the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) presents to Nigerians Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea. The first home-grown Genetically Modified crop in Nigeria.
PBR Cowpea has been under research for the last 8 years and according to the Executive Secretary of the ARCN, Professor Ambrose Voh, PBR Cowpea has passed all scientific tests and poses no danger to humans or the environment.
The National Agriculture Research System (NARS) has also declared the crop safe as the country prepares to commercialize it.
The cowpea was genetically modified to resistant pod borer called Maruca which reduces farmers’ yield as much as 80%.
The Maruca vitrata is a major Lepidopteran pest that inflicts severe damage to the cowpea plant.
The PBR project was carried out in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa-Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi. Several Confined Field Trials, (CFT) was conducted annually in Nigeria, since 2009; Burkina Faso since 2011; and Ghana since 2013. Efficacy and agronomic potential of the genes was evaluated.
The PBR trait was introduced into some farmer preferred cowpea varieties through conventional breeding and the efficacy of the trait was evaluated in multi-location CFTs in Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Ghana.
In line with regulatory requirements, farmers in Nigeria across three locations were involved in the evaluation of the cowpea seeds. In addition, various environmental and food/feed safety assessments were conducted.
The Principal Investigator of the PBR Cowpea, Prof. Mohammed Ishiaku of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria said that if the PBR Cowpea is grown by one third of Nigerian Cowpea fields, the nation would save N16 billion from the cost of insecticide alone.
He added that if there was 20% increase yield over normal non-resistant Cowpea, the nation would get financial benefit not less than N48 billion every year.
The Pod-borer Resistant Cowpea Project is a public private partnership coordinated by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), with the funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote technological interventions that will optimise cowpea productivity and utilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kudos to African biotechnologists for this big step in the advancement of biotechnology as a tool to ensure food security in Africa. This achievement demonstrates the ideology, Biotechnology for African by Africans.
This approach is the best way to encourage Africans to embrace GMOs by showing them that it is not a western conspiracy to harm Africans but a Scientific solution Africans can use to solve food problems by themselves.
When we do our own researches using our own researchers to solve our own problems we would not need GMOs from companies with bad reputation like Monsanto or be entangled in their dirty dealings and politics.