The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), has inaugurated an 11-member National Stewardship Committee for quality management, production and distribution of the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea seeds.
This move is part of efforts to ensure the right quality of Pod Borer Resistant cowpea seeds gets to the farmers.
The stewardship committee includes 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.
The product stewardship lead for AATF, Francis Onyekachi Nwankwo while speaking with journalists at the inauguration and training of the committee, said the training would define the roles and responsibilities of every member for the new variety to be managed properly to give maximum benefits to farmers.
“We are going through a training process so that everybody will understand their roles, responsibilities and the mandate they have to fulfil with farmers so that they can have sustainable and durable benefits of the products”, he said.
He said “we are at the point of going to the farmers. Last year, we did demonstration trials with some farmers around nine states at 28 clusters.
“Farmers are very happy with the test and the demand they are placing is very high. We are upscaling it so that more farmers can plant it this year and we are targeting July planting season around North Central and North West zones.
“Farmers, go through a lot trying to produce cowpea, they spray several times, instead of spraying several times, they can now spray pesticides twice.
“This helps the farmers save money that would have gone into production, without the spraying, farmers can lose 80 percent of their yield, but with this, the farmer would gain 80 percent per yield and when is gained, it means more production for the farmer to have more to sale. There will be more beans for the consumers and there will be more beans for the farmer to sell and feed his family,” he said.
Speaking on the safety of genetically modified food, Nwankwo explained that GM foods are highly regulated, adding that it is safe for human and animal consumption.
“GM foods are highly regulated. Nigeria has an agency that regulates this production, for them to approve it, it goes through a lot, they have food and feed assessment to know if it is safe as food and feed. They also check environmental safety, it does not have an adverse effect on the environment. it took a 10 years period of doing this safety assessment and it is very safe,” he added.