Dr. Jerry Nboyine, a plant breeder and entomologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (CSIR-SARI), says that the recently developed genetically modified cowpea has the potential to reduce farmer poverty and guarantee food security for Ghana.
According to him, pest infestation has caused Ghana’s cowpea production rate and planted area to drop during the previous ten years.
He added that pest infestation has deterred many farmers from starting cowpea farms, which has increased the price of cowpea throughout the nation.
In order to provide the participants with updates on Ghana’s efforts in the development of its GM crops, particularly on the recently developed Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea (Bt Cowpea), the three-day training was organised by Alliance for Science in collaboration with CSIR-SARI, OFAB Ghana, and Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA).
According to Dr. Nboyine, cowpea farmers typically lose 80% of their crops to pests (Maruca vitrata), putting many of them in utter poverty.
Additionally, he added, farmers sometimes spray pesticides eight times in a season because of the pests, noting that this frequent spraying costs farmers a lot of money.
He added that when the newly developed Bt Cowpea is made available to farmers, it might cut down the number of sprayings to only two and increase yields by four times.
Due to pests, he pointed out that cowpeas had a considerably greater cost of production than many other crops, and many former cowpea farmers are now cultivating maize.
In order to combat the Maruca vitrata pest, which destroys the crop at every stage of development, scientists created the pod borer-resistant (PBR) type. Dr. Nboyine added.
He said scientists working on the Bt Cowpea are only waiting for regulators to give them the green light to be able to release the seeds to farmers for cultivation.