More than 50 farmers have been introduced to Genetically Modified Cowpea variety at Manga in the Bawku Municipality of the Upper East Region.
The farmers mostly women were drawn from Bawku and its adjoining districts. The field day exercise was to afford the farmers the opportunity to familiarize themselves and to know what GMO is all about contrary to some popular public perception that it is harmful and how profitable its cultivation can be.
It was organized by the Savana Agriculture Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research CSIR-SARI in partnership with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation.
Speaking in an interview with ModernGhana News on the side-lines of the field day at Manga, the Principal Investigator on the Pod Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea project Dr Jerry Nboyine, of CSIR-SARI indicated that, Cowpea production is greatly affected by the insect pests, especially the legume pod borer, Maruca vitrata, that causes the largest pre-harvest damages, reducing grain yield by up to 80% and lowering the quality of the grain.
It was against this backdrop he said, that African scientists have identified PBR Cowpea (Bt cowpea), with in-built protection against Maruca damage, to help farmers boost production for food security.
Dr Nboyine further stated that, the new technology which involves the introduction of a character from a fungus called Bacillus therigiensis (Bt) into the cowpea plant to enables it to withstand Maruca vitrata while reducing the cost of production of cowpea and quantity of insecticides applied on the farm.
Dr Nboyine called for a shift from the politics of Genetically Modified Organism technology that has been adopted by developed countries for more than two decades.
He observed that country over the years has deficit in cowpea and heavily depend on imports from neighbouring Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso have adopted the technology in their production.
A Plant Breeder with the Nyankpala station of CSIR-SARI Gloria Adazaberah urged persons holding beef against the Genetically Modified Organism technology to engage the Institute to be abreast with modern trends in agriculture.
Madam Facihatu Alhassan, a farmer was happy for the education especially the Maruca Resistant Cowpea variety, the less application of insecticides adding that it will help reduce their cost of production.
Adisa Shaibu also expressed her joy over the variety and appealed to Government to help make the seed available by adding it to the Planting for Food and Jobs Programme.