The Nigerian Tribune
By Collins Nnabuife - Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria has approved registration and release of a new Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea variety for commercialisation.
The approval was granted by the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties, chaired by Mr Oladosu Awoyemi, at its 28th meeting which was held in Ibadan.
The new cowpea variety, SAMPEA 20-T, was developed by scientists at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in collaboration with various partners under the coordination of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).
PBR Cowpea was earlier in the year granted environmental release approval by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), which confirmed the product was safe for human, livestock and the environment and paved the way for submission to the National Variety Release Committee for consideration and registration as a commercial crop in Nigeria.
The newly approved SAMPEA 20-T has been bred for resistance to Maruca vitrata, a lepidoptreran insect pest that causes up to 90 per cent yield loss in severe infestation cases.
This new variety is early maturing (70 – 75 days) with semi-erect growth habit and photoperiod insensitive and has medium-large white seeds. It is also resistant to Striga and Alectra, two notorious parasitic weeds.
The decision to release the variety means that farmers will have access to the seed that will help them significantly reduce the number of sprays they currently apply to their crop from 6 to 7 times to only 2 per cropping season and as a result realise better yield in quantity and quality. It will also contribute to addressing the national cowpea demand deficit of about 500,000 tonnes and also improve the national productivity average of 350kg/hectare.
During the Multi locational Advanced Yield Trials conducted across Nigeria’s agro-ecologies, researchers found SAMPEA 20-T to have high stable grain yield across the test locations. The minimum observed grain yield increase over the conventional cowpea varieties was 20 per cent and the maximum was over 200 per cent. The variety can yield up to 2.9 tons of beans per hectare, and over 3.0 tons of fodder per hectare.
Professor Mohammed Ishiyaku, the Principal Investigator for the project and Executive Director, Institute for Agricultural Research, Zaria said both the on-station and on-farm trials demonstrated the superiority of SAMPEA 20-T relative to local, recently released cowpea varieties and improved breeding lines tested.
“SAMPEA 20-T is high yielding, early maturing and resistant to Striga and Alectra, which are a major constraint to cowpea production in most producing areas in Nigeria and other dry savanna regions,” said Professor Ishiyaku.
“The protein and nutrients content of variety ‘SAMPEA 20-T is the same as that of other conventional varieties meaning that the Bt gene that was introduced into the variety has no negative influence on the nutritional composition of both grain and folder,” Professor Ishiyaku added, saying that the newly released variety does not differ in any way from already existing cowpeas (beans) other than the improvements made.