In order to ensure quality management, production, and distribution of the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea seeds, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has inaugurated an 11-member National Stewardship Committee.
The committee which includes the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), AATF, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), ABU Zaria, National Agricultural Seeds Council (NAQS), National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), and seed companies was set up to ensure that the right quality PBR seeds are distributed to farmers.
According to research, about 200 million people consume cowpea in Africa. Cowpea production is greatly affected by insects, especially the Legume pod borer, Meruca vitrata, which has the ability to reduce grain yield by up to 80% and lower the quality of the grain. The PBR Cowpea will lead to increase in harvests, higher incomes, and improved health through the reduced need for harmful treatments. In addition, minimum estimated boost to farmer harvest is put at 20%, while the number of sprays needed with the PBR Cowpea is twice compared to the usual 6-8 applications.
Establishing the committee would ensure that the roles and responsibilities of each member are managed properly so that farmers can get maximum benefits. The team would also train farmers on how to get maximum yield from this new crop. According to the product stewardship lead for AATF, Francis Onyekachi Nwankwo, demonstration trials were conducted in 2020 around nine states at 28 clusters. Nwankwo noted that farmers were pleased with the test and there is a high demand for the crop. The target is to begin planting in the July planting season around North Central and North West Zones.