Farmers laud new beans variety’s performance

Nigerian beans farmers have commended the performance of new beans variety, Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea (beans) over its outstanding performance on the field over the old varieties the planted in the past.

The farmers who spoke during a nationwide demonstration trial of the variety of the new beans said they could now plant beans that can tolerate the attacks of pod borer pest, and also get a good yield.

“I have been planting beans for the last 16 years but have never seen any variety like the PBR Cowpea, it is early maturing, produces more pods, needs only two rounds of insecticide sprays and is very easy to manage,” says Suleiman Aliyu, a farmer based in Minjibir Local Government in Kano State.

Another farmer, Sale Abdul Bichi, an ADP official at the Bichi Agro Centre also testified that he has never seen a better variety of cowpea than PBR Cowpea which does not require 10 ‘sessions’ of insecticide sprays and is early maturing and the yield is unbelievable.

The new beans variety which was developed by the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), out-performed all existing beans varieties in the country during the nationwide demonstration trial has shown.

The new beans variety was developed after 10 years of research work at the IAR.

As one requirement for the nation-wide release to farmers, the IAR was required to undertake a national performance trial to collate data for submission to the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties after the crop was approved by the Nigerian government in January as safe to be planted in the country.

The PBR Cowpea is genetically modified against the deadly Maruca vitrata pest, which has been a challenge facing beans farmers for years.

Speaking at the PBR Cowpea Farmers’ Field Day held in Bagadawa, Kano State today, Professor Ishiyaku Mohammad noted that the journey that culminated in the field trials started in 2009 when IAR filed an application for permission to commence research into the genetically engineered beans plant resistant to a notorious Pod Boring insect, Maruca in the field under confinement.

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Prof Ishiyaku who was represented by Dr Mohammed Lawan, the National Trial Manager noted that: “The performance we’re witnessing today is consistent with what we have been having for the last six years of trials. We are happy to provide farmers with a cowpea variety that is easy to manage and with the potential of 40 per cent higher yield over its counterparts.”

He noted that: “After series of both on-farm and confined field trials which our research team conducted, we were able to prove not only that the new crop is truly resistant to the insect pest (Maruca) but also has the same physical and chemical profile as the ordinary cowpea. The results of over 10 years of experiments showed that the crop does not cause any harm or negative effect on the environment or to us.

“In addition to the naturally occurring Maruca insect in the field, additional larva of the insect was reared and released onto the tests plants in order to verify the earlier resistance in the laboratory. This experiment was repeated for four successive years and revealed consistently between 100 to 200% yield advantage in the resistant plants compared to the ordinary cowpea plants.”

According to the AATF PBR Cowpea Manager, Dr Issoufou Kollo Abdourhamane, the development being witnessed is part of the determination of the AATF to keep its promises to farmers in Africa.

Dr Kollo who was represented by Mr Oluseun Bolarinwa, the AATF Programme Officer – Seeds, expressed delight in hosting the farmers and other stakeholders at the Farmers’ Field Day so they could experience the benefits of cultivating the PBR Cowpea.

He stated that: “We are very hopeful that the success of these demonstration trials across the country will lead to the registration and release of the PBR Cowpea for cultivation by farmers across the country.”

He noted that: “Farmers who have participated in the demonstration trials have conveyed their excitement about the benefits of the PBR cowpea such as a reduction in the use of insecticides, better grain yields and better grain quality.”

He also commended the hardworking farmers who participated in the on-farm trials, the diligent research scientists who executed the on-station trials, and the local and international partners that provided technical and financial support for the development and commercialization of the PBR Cowpea in Nigeria.

The demonstration trials were conducted in about 24 locations in 12 states of the federation on farmers plots and research institutes’ farm sites.

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