Nigeria moves forward to Bt cowpea commercialization
After almost a decade of trials, Nigeria is now on the road towards the commercialization of Bt cowpea. The Bt crop, known as pod borer resistant (PBR) cowpea, was presented to the public by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). The potential benefits of the crop were highlighted in the event, which was aimed at getting comments from scientists, farmers, policy makers, civil society organizations, experts, faith-based organizations, and the media.
Prof. Muhammad Ishiyaku, principal investigator of PBR cowpea, discussed how the GM crop was developed as well as its safety based on the risk assessment on food and environment conducted. He highlighted that researchers decided to use genetic engineering to address the problems of farmers caused by Maruca vitrata (bean pod) pest in cowpea, which lead to high crop losses of up to 80 percent.
NBMA Director-General, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, a 21-day public comment period was published in three national newspapers and the NBMA website to allow stakeholders to submit their comments about the crop. It is projected that the Bt crop will be released into the Nigerian market in 2020.