Cowpea is an important staple crop, however susceptible to many insect pests.
Photo: IITA

15.03.2019

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The Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency has approved the commercial release of genetically modified cowpea. This is a major breakthrough for farmers and scientists as Nigeria will be the first country to cultivate biotech cowpea.

Following more than two decades of research, field trials, and risk assessment by multiple organisations, on the 29th January, the Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) approved the commercial release of the resulting genetically modified cowpea to farmers in Nigeria, placing the country on the path to becoming the first country ever to cultivate biotech cowpea. This development adds a new crop to the global biotech basket from Africa.

NBMA’s approval allows the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) to commercially release Pod Borer-Resistant Cowpea (PBR Cowpea) – event AAT709A, genetically improved to resist Maruca vitrata. The release provides a relief to millions of Nigerian farmers who depend on cowpea for food and income, as well as to the consumers of cowpea.

Cowpea is an important staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa, serving human consumption needs while providing a good source of quality fodder for livestock. However, cowpea farmers face a challenge with a traditionally low yield factor due to its susceptibility to many insect pests at different stages of its production lifecycle.

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