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African Agriculural Technology Foudation (AATF) gets grant to monitor pod-borer resistant cowpea in Nigeria

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research has awarded AATF a grant of 250,000 Australian dollars for the dissemination and monitoring of the pod-borer resistant (PBR) cowpea variety in Nigeria.

PBR Cowpea
PBR Cowpea farm in Upper-West Region, Ghana PHOTO: AATF

The variety, Sampea 20-T, was developed and released to overcome a major yield limitation in cowpea in Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Its release is the culmination of a breeding initiative that began in 2003, overseen by Dr TJ Higgins of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia.

The new grant is expected to help address five research questions:

  • What are the field-based biological consequences of PBR cowpea, compared with conventional cowpeas in Nigeria?
  • Is adequate genetically pure PBR cowpea seed being supplied to farmers in Nigeria?
  • Are farmers adhering to the recommended field practices when introducing the PBR cowpea?
  • How do adopters compare with non-adopters after introduction, with respect to practices and results?
  • What are the expectations from farmers in Ghana and Burkina Faso about the PBR cowpea’s future deployment?
  • Dr Francis Onyekachi, AATF Stewardship Manager, said the grant was timely and would enable the Foundation to comprehensively monitor the crop in the fields.

″The PBR cowpea was commercially grown for the first time by smallholder farmers in Nigeria in the 2021 cropping season. As such, this is a critical time to strengthen post-release stewardship of the product and monitor its effects at the farmers’ level.

″Good stewardship and monitoring, and successful release of PBR cowpea will aid development and release of subsequent GM crops. The purpose of this Small Research Activity (RSA) is to record and analyse early data on the effectiveness and impact of the PBR cowpea for the Nigerian farmers growing this new crop in 2022. The SRA is building on the partnership between AATF, CSIRO and Nigerian researchers,″ he said.

Nigeria is the largest producer of cowpea in the world, accounting for about 44% of the global harvest. In 2018, the country had about 2.9 million hectares of cowpea, mostly grown by millions of smallholder farmers, making it the most important legume.

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