The African Agricultural Technology Foundation, (AATF) said its scientists would soon release an improved variety of beans that is resistant to Maruca beans (Cowpea) disease capable of causing over 80 percent loss in yield.
Regional Manager of the Foundation in West Africa, Dr. Prince Addae said AATF in collaboration with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria has developed the Maruca resistant Cowpea to help local farmers improve overall crop yield as against loses suffered due to the disease which has so far defied a permanent solution.
Speaking at a Media Training on Biotechnology Application in Agriculture held in Abuja, Addae said this new way of fighting the disease is by far better than spraying the cowpea with chemicals because there will be no incidence of chemical food poisoning and it is less expensive to the farmer.
"Maruca vitrata inflicts severe damage to Cowpea, leading to yield loss of between 70 to 80 percent. Spraying with insecticides has not been widely adopted by farmers because it is expensive, and that is why AATF is addressing this problem by facilitating the development of Maruca resistant transgenic cowpea," he said.
According to Professor Mohammad Ishiyaku who is the Principal Investigator of the project at the Institute for Agriculture Research (IAR) ABU, "the research is as a result of plant breeding and gene modification in agriculture and it is not known to have any side effects or implication on health or the environment.
He said as the largest producer and consumer of cowpea, the development of the Maruca resistant beans variety which will be released before 2017, is a great breakthrough and a cutting edge technology which local farmers can now benefit from.