NewsBill, Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Nigeria With Pest-Resistant Cowpea Seeds

Bill, Melinda Gates Foundation Supports Nigeria With Pest-Resistant Cowpea Seeds

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April 02, (THEWILL) – The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting Nigeria with pest-resistant cowpeas(beans) seeds to boost the production of the crop and the seeds in the country.

The Senior Programme Officer of the foundation based in Seattle, United States, Lawrence Kent, said this while addressing newsmen at a project review and workshop on Tuesday, in Kano.

The event was organised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

Kent said they were in Kano to support the pest-resistant cowpea project which is an effort being led by the Nigerian government working with African Agricultural Technology.

“This is to bring the new improved insect-resistant cowpea to Nigeria in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research and other projects for the development of an improved cowpea variety that is resistant to pests.

“As a result, farmers who planted this cowpea will be able to achieve high yield with less dependence on pesticides because the product itself is insect resistant.

“So we at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are proud to provide some financial support to the partners here in Nigeria, who are now working to reproduce the seeds, both the foundation seed and the breeder seed, but most importantly the certified seed that is produced by eleven different Nigerian seed companies.

“We are supporting them to produce quality seeds and make them available to Nigerian farmers, so they can improve their yields and reduce dependence on pesticides and improve their livelihoods.

In his remarks, the Kano state Commissioner for Agriculture, Danjuma Mahmud, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sadi Ibrahim, said the state is ready to embrace whatever outcome reached at the end of the workshop that would boost the production and enhancement of cowpea seeds.

“I am here for the workshop on the pest-resistant cowpea seeds holding here in Kano. It is a welcome development that this workshop is taking place here in Kano because it is an agrarian state. So, anything that has to do with agriculture we are part and parcel of it.

“Whatever the outcome of this meeting we are going to take it and work with it. We will sensitise our farmers on the new technology developed through this variety so that they will be able to adopt the cultivation of that variety for increased food production and ultimately food security in the state.

“Kano State Government, on its part, is doing a lot to ensure the availability of high-quality seeds for its farmers.

“One of the ways we are trying to achieve this is through what we call seed multiplication in our Ministry of Agriculture and Kano State Agricultural Development Authority, where we procure some seeds from the National Institutes that are responsible for these productions.

“We produce it to get certified seeds which we ultimately distribute to our farmers at subsidised rates.

“Currently there is an effort by this administration to sanitise the seed industries that are operating in the state.

“Towards this, we are making serious efforts in collaboration with the National Agricultural Council and the State Consumer Production Council to ensure that our farmers and the general public are sensitised on high-quality seeds”, Mahmud said.

Also, the Director of Programme Development and Commercialization, AATF, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, described Nigeria as the largest producer of cowpea in the world followed by its neighbour, the Niger Republic.

Okogbenin, however, said the country meets up its demand by importing the product from Niger Republic, meaning that there is underproduction.

He said that cowpea could be planted all over Nigeria, only that the challenges varied, adding that with the enhancement of the cowpea seeds, up to 2 tons could be produced per hectare as against what is now obtained of 0.2 per hectare.

“Which has so far been increased to 0.6 – 0.8 hectares which is still not enough to satisfy the national demand with a population of 200 million Nigerians”, he added.

About the Author

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Abdullahi Yusuf is a seasoned journalist, communicator and was previously the Deputy Editor-In-Chief and Zonal Manager, News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Jos, where he retired on December 15, 2021

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Abdullahi Yusuf, THEWILL
Abdullahi Yusuf is a seasoned journalist, communicator and was previously the Deputy Editor-In-Chief and Zonal Manager, News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Jos, where he retired on December 15, 2021

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