The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has urged cowpea farmers in Nigeria to take advantage of the recent push to ban food importation to cultivate SAMPEA-20T.
SAMPEA-20T is the new variety of cowpea resistant to Pod Borer.
Dr Issoufou Kollo, AATF Regional Director for West Africa, said this in a statement by Nancy Muchiri, the Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships of AATF, on Tuesday in Abuja.
Kollo said the foundation was working with the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to produce sufficient foundation seeds that seed companies in the country could use for the production of certified seeds for farmers
According to him, President Mohammadu Buhari at a recent media parley with journalists advised Nigerian farmers to increase their food production as Nigeria has ‘no money’ for food importation.
“I wish the farmers could go and stay in their farms so that we can produce what we need sufficiently so that we don’t have to import.
“In any case, we don’t have money to import so we must produce what we have to eat,” Buhari said.
Kollo noted with concern that COVID-19 pandemic had brought some delays in the foundation’s implementation plan to reach out to farmers before the planting season.
“But as soon as movement is allowed, we shall scale up our implementation plans to ensure that farmers get the seed before the planting season.
”The presidential advice that farmers should get back to the farm and try to produce more for the country is very apt.
”We have just released our high yielding cowpea variety called SAMPEA-20T, if a good percentage of Nigerian cowpea farmers grow this variety this year, it will surely make a difference in closing the gap in the country’s annual cowpea deficit of 500,000mt,” he said while reacting to Buhari’s call.
Kollo said apart from ensuring that farmers had access to the seeds, the foundation has also concluded arrangements with extension agents to properly educate and guide farmers on how to plant the SAMPEA-20T to ensure that they got maximum benefit from it.
He said a comparison of SAMPEA-20T with conventional cowpea varieties showed that the average yield gain across all location in Nigeria was 581.5 kg/ha representing 73.5 per cent yield increased over conventional varieties.
“The SAMPEA-20T was resistant to the Pod Borer, it only needs two chemical sprays per cropping season as opposed to 9 -10 times that non-transgenic varieties need for a farmer to get at least 65 per cent yield.
”It is drought tolerant, resistant to Striga and Alectra, two notorious parasitic weeds and will contribute to addressing the national cowpea demand deficit of about 500,000 tonnes and improve the national productivity average of cowpea production,” he said.
Kollo said that Nigeria cultivated about five million hectares of cowpea annually making the country, the largest producer of the cowpea globally.
He said that the country, in spite being the largest producer had an annual deficit of 500,000 tonnes.
He said the deficit was imported from neighbouring West African countries of Niger and Mali.