Nigeria stands to gain N48 billion annually if one million hectares of the newly released Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea is grown. The Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, said this during a press briefing in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties in the country recently met in Ibadan and approved the PBR Cowpea for release to farmers after naming it SAMPEA 20-T.
Ishiyaku said that the newly released variety does not differ in any way from already existing cowpeas (beans) other than the improvements made.
He said both the on-station and on-farm trials demonstrated the superiority of SAMPEA 20-T relative to local, recently released cowpea varieties and improved breeding lines tested.
The Acting Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, said the PBR cowpea would address the demand deficit of about 500,000 tonnes and also improve the national productivity average of 350kg/hectare.
Akpa said that Nigeria is the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa apart from South Africa to develop and release a GM food crop.
He said Nigeria as a country must encourage scientists to continue to work for the good of the country and the people.
PBR Cowpea Manager, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Dr. Issoufou Abdourhamane, urged farmers to embrace the new cowpea variety, adding that it does not have any negative impact on health.