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July 16, 2024

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports Nigeria with pest-resistant Cowpea seeds

By Abdullahi Yusuf

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting Nigeria with pest-resistant cowpeas(beans) seeds to boost the production of the crop and the seeds in the country.

The Senior Programme Officer of the foundation based in Seattle, United States, Lawrence Kent, said this while addressing newsmen at a project review and workshop on Tuesday in Kano.

The event was organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.

Kent said they were in Kano to support the pest-resistant cowpea project which is an effort being led by the Nigerian government working with the African Agricultural Technology.

“This is to bring the new improved insect- resistant cowpea to Nigeria in collaboration with the Institute of Agricultural Research and other projects for the development of improved cowpea variety that is resistant to pests.

“As a result, farmers who planted this cowpea will be able to achieve high yield with less dependence on pesticides because the product itself is insect resistant.

“So we at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are proud to provide some financial support to the partners here in Nigeria who are now working to reproduce the seeds, both the foundation seed and the breeder seed, but most importantly the certified seed that is produced by eleven different Nigerian seed companies.

“We are supporting them to produce the quality seeds and make it available to the Nigerian farmers, so they can improve their yields and reduce dependence on pesticides and improve their livelihoods.

Also speaking,the Kano state Commissioner for Agriculture, Danjuma Mahmud, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Sadi Ibrahim, said the state is ready to embrace whatever outcome reached at the end of the workshop that would boost the production and enhancement of cowpea seeds.

“I am here for the workshop on the pest resistant cowpea seeds holding here in Kano. It is a welcome development that this workshop is taking place here in Kano because it is an agrarian state. So, anything that has to do with agriculture we are part and parcel of it.

“Whatever the outcome of this meeting we are going to take it and work with it. We will sensitize our farmers on the new technology developed through this variety so that they will be able to adopt the cultivation of that variety for increased food production and ultimately food security in the state.

“Kano State Government on its part, is doing a lot to ensure the availability of high quality seeds for its farmers.

“One of the ways we are trying to achieve this is through what we call seed multiplication in our Ministry of Agriculture and Kano State Agricultural Development Authority where we procure some seeds from the National Institutes that are responsible for these productions.

“We produce it to get certified seeds which we ultimately distribute to our farmers at subsidized rates.

“Currently there is an effort by this administration to sanitize the seed industries that are operating in the state.

“Towards this we are making serious efforts in collaboration with the National Agricultural Council, the State Consumer Production Council to ensure that our farmers and the general public are sensitized on high quality seeds,” Mahmud said.

On his part,the Chairman of the Seeds Entrepreneurs Association of Nigeria(SEEDAN) and former Commissioner of Agriculture in Kano State,Yusuf Ado Kibiya, described nutrition security as a huge challenge in Nigeria which must be addressed.

Kibiya said the association is working with global partners to ensure its protection.

He expressed delight at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation intervention, which he said would boost food production towards attainment of food security in Nigeria.

Also, the Director Programme Development and Commercialization, AATF, Dr. Emmanuel Okogbenin, described Nigeria as the largest producer of cowpea in the world followed by its neighbour,Niger Republic.

Okogbenin,however, said, the country meets up its demand by importing the product from Niger Republic, meaning that there is underproduction.

He said that cowpea could be planted all over Nigeria, only that the challenges varied, adding that with the enhancement of the cowpea seeds, up to 2 tons could be produced per hectare as against what is now obtained of 0.2 per hectare.

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