BT Cowpea farmers of Wa, Kpansenkpe record bumper harvest in trials


Smallholder farmers in the Sissala East and West districts of the Upper West and Kpasenkpe in the Walewale Municipality of the North-East Regions have recorded a bumper harvest with cultivation of the pod-borer resistant (PBR) cowpea on their respective farmer-managed trial farms.

Consequently, the farmers expressed gratitude to the Savannah Agriculture Research Institute of the council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-SARI) and other research scientists for introducing the variety to improve food security.

The farmers made the commendation when a team of scientists developing the BT Cowpea paid a working visit to their trial sites in the North East and Upper West Regions respectively.

The research scientists’ visit to the PBR cowpea multi-locational farmer-managed trial fields at Kpasenkpe in the Walewale district of the North East Region and Chinchang and Sibelle at Tumu in the Sissala East district of the Upper West Region was to assess the farmers’ compliance with best agronomic practices.

According to the farmers, per the training provided they saw nothing wrong with the Genetically Modified (GM) crop. They said it is rather good for production, and therefore need government to fast-track its collaboration with the research scientists for approval and release of the seeds to enable cultivation in the next farming season.

Professor Charles Antwi Boasiako, Chairman of the National Biosafety Authority, stated that the genetically modified seeds are good for production and consumption; adding that research and tests on the seeds indicate there are no side-effects.

Madam Gloria Adazebra, a cowpea breeder at Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI), noted that her outfit has conducted extensive research and found that farmers suffered the impact of pests in the four major cowpea varieties: Padi tuya, Apagbaala, Wan-kai and Kirkhouse Benga, which are the most cultivated in the country.

“We are committed to providing technological innovations which address specific agricultural productivity challenges and transform the livelihoods of smallholder farmers,” she said.

She said SARI is collaborating with both local and international research institutions to introduce more BT crops for farmers to boost the country’s food security.

Haruuna Ali, the supervisor, noted that farmers within the trial field communities were educated and trained in the best agronomic practices. He said they were provided with a sample of the cowpea seeds to cultivate on their farmers.

He called on farmers to adopt the use of biotechnology crops to help increase sufficient and nutritional food in the country.

Tommie Batong Latif, another farmer, said using the seeds on his farm has recorded high yields than the ones he used previously.

The scientists were from National Biosafety Authority, CSIR-SARI, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alliance for Science and PBS – with some staff from the Department of Agriculture commending the farmers for their preference of the variety.

BT Cowpea

With The BT Cowpea, less spraying is required as compared to the ordinary one that requires more spraying; thereby affecting the cost of production.

The pest-resistant genetically modified (GM) cowpea beans will save farmers from spraying the crop several times with pesticides.

It is said that some developing countries are already cultivating GM crops that have increased food security in their respective countries, and Ghana is joining the terrain to boost food security and nutritional value.

Developing nations like India, Pakistan, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Sudan, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Vietnam, Philippines, Honduras and Bangladesh are said to be accounting for 53 percent of the world’s acreage in GM crops.

In Ghana, it is said that plans are far advanced for approval and release to the farmers who are now yearning to access the seeds for their productivity and increase in yield and revenue.

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