Nigeria has added a new crop to the global biotech basket from Africa.
This is after Nigeria’s bio safety agency granted approval for the cultivation of a biotech cow pea by farmers. This has made Nigeria to be the first country ever to cultivate Bt cow pea.
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) permitted the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) to commercially release Pod Borer-Resistant Cowpea (PBR Cowpea)-event AAT709A, genetically improved to resist lepidopteran insect pest Maruca vitrata. The permit is valid until the end of 2022.
According to NBMA, the issuance of the permit was granted considering the advice of National Biosafety Committee, National Biosafety Technical sub-committee and the risk assessment and risk management report provided by IAR, the applicant.
“After a thorough analysis of the application dossier, Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan prepared in connection with assessment of the application, it is unlikely that the proposed release will have adverse impact on the environment and human health,” read part of the document.
The approval follows an intensive nine year trials into genetically modified (GM) cowpea that can resist Maruca vitrata pod borer, an insect that can cause up to 80 per cent yield loss.
The release is a relief to millions of Nigerian farmers who depend on cowpea for food and income. Results from the research, led by Nigeria’s Institute for Agricultural Research in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), have shown that Bt cowpea will reduce the use of pesticides from eight to about two sprays per season and increase yield up to 20 per cent. This means Nigeria will record a revenue increase of more than N48 billion ($132 million) annually from cowpea.