8 million Nigerian farmers to benefit from new GM beans variety ― AFAN

• Nigeria to earn N46 billion annually planting the beans

The All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has said that about 8 million Nigerian farmers and their families will benefit directly from cultivating the newly launched Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea -(PBR) variety called SAMPEA20-T.

AFAN President, Arc Kabiru Ibrahim said at the launch/unveiling of SAMPEA 20-T in Kano (June 29) that over 12.5 million hectares of land will be dedicated to the production of the new variety across Africa where many millions consume cowpea on daily basis.

SAMPEA 20-T is a new beans variety bred to resist the notorious insect pest Maruca Vitrata that causes up to 80 per cent yield loses on the farm by scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

“I understand that Nigeria is the first country in the whole wide world to commercialize this variety of cowpea and hitherto, yield losses of 70-80 per cent are commonplace due to pod-borer infestation on cowpea but the development and release of SAMPEA 20-T completely mitigates this phenomenon,” the President told the audience at the launch.

He urged farmers to embrace the variety and vigorously cultivate it to become prosperous as well as make Nigeria food sufficient adding that: “I have personally tried the Variety on a small portion of my farm and can therefore attest to its potential to take the Nigerian farmer out of poverty as well as contribute immensely to the quest for food security in Nigeria.

Furthermore, USAID said the commercialisation of the cowpea by Nigeria represents tremendous progress in applying innovative approaches to advance Nigerian food security.

Dr Faith B. Tarr, General Development Officer, Biotechnology Specialist USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Center for Agriculture-Led Growth while speaking at the launch, said “we celebrate the completion of a critical stage within a continuous, iterative process by which new food security innovations are developed, disseminated, adopted, and used in order to enhance prosperity, resilience, and nutrition.

“This achievement advances Nigeria’s capacity to harness science, technology and innovation to sustainably improve livelihoods and nutrition. It also demonstrates that research investments can support innovation systems to deliver a pipeline of new tools and approaches that improve agriculture, food security, and resilience in the face of complex, dynamic challenges that Nigeria may face in the future,” she added.

According to her, with this nutritious crop that resists insect pests, farmers will be able to significantly reduce pesticide applications and harvest bigger yields, supporting the nation’s economic development and food security
while improving farmers’ livelihoods.

Also, the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) Ahmadu Bello Zaria said the launch of the PBR beans variety is a very significant scientific and economic achievement for the improvement of the production of Beans for Nigerians.

Professor Mohammad Ishiyaku, IAR Executive Director said “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”.

He said: “it is estimated that between N17 billion to N21 billion Naira will be saved annually from the reduction of the use of chemicals insecticide in the production of Beans in our fields by planting this new variety instead of the non-resistant one”.

Professor Ishiyaku who is the principal investigator for the PBR beans project that bred the new variety also said 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 per cent yield lost on farmers field.

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

He called on the government and the organised private sector to invest hugely in research, stressing that the result will significantly turn around our economy.

“This is one area where research has contributed immensely to the solving of food security problem. Cultivation of this new variety by our farmers will therefore reduce the cost of Cowpea in our market which has skyrocketed in recent time,” he added.

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8 million Nigerian farmers to benefit from new GM beans variety ― AFAN

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