Small holder farmers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have begun seeking out ways to put an end to low crop yield, using genetically modified (GM) crops.
Also, stakeholders in the agricultural sector are seeking out ways to end the present food crisis by encouraging farmers to key into GM crops.
It says that unlike the conventional crops, GM crops are resistant to a lot of pests, need less chemical applications which is good for the environment and has great yield.
Coordinator Alliance for Science Nigeria, Opuah Abeikwen said the idea is for farmers to see how science can help solve problems.
He said this in Abuja when Alliance for Science Nigeria in partnership with the Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria, led small holders farmers to GM farms to understand the value of the crops.
Abeikwen said: “We brought farmers to see how science can help solve our problems. We have been talking about GM crops for sometime now and many people don’t know what it looks like, so we brought farmers to the field where GM cowpea is cultivated so they can see first hand and compare it to the varieties they have been planting and see how science can help us solve some of our issues.”
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Farmer and Chief Executive Officer yieldwise seeds Patience Koku said the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea that was introduced to the farmers are resistant to cowpeas’ most deadly pest, the Maruca worm.
She said, “We are here in a sampe 20T field and what we are growing here is the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea which is resistant to the maruca.
“As farmers, one of the biggest problems we have with cowpea production is a worm called Maruca, the maraca worm is so destructive that sometimes as farmers we cannot harvest at all, it would take all the pods, suck everything out and you have zero harvest. Over the years our beans or cowpeas have continued to be more expensive because farmers harvest less, so what this variety of cowpea does for us is that it has enabled us to be able to overcome this challenge.
“When we plant the cowpea, we spray less, usually farmers have to spray pesticides up to ten times to be able to get a good yield but rather now what has happened is that we spray far less, two to three sprays and you get a good harvest. This variety also has other benefits, the bark or the pod when you harvest the seed is used as animal feed, what this variety does is that you have a good pod meaning you have more to sell, we also sell the leaves and with this variety, the pods dry out and the leaves are still green which is good for farmers. So farmers can make money from not only the seeds but residue.
“We are excited that the variety is readily available in the market for farmers to buy, which means the general prices of beans in the market we expect would begin to drop in a couple of years and if we cannot produce beans effectively, it means the price would continue to go up.”