George Okoh in Makurdi
An Associate Professor of Plant Breeding and Seed Science, at the Federal University of Agriculture (FUAM) in Makurdi, Dr. Lucky Omoigui, has called on the federal government and farmers in the country to take advantage of the health and economic advantage cowpea farming provides, to invest heavily in the production of the crop in the country.
He said cowpea is an important crop in Nigeria as it provides food and cash for farmers, and fodder for livestock.
He made the call at the field day event in Benue State.
According to Omoigui, who led a team of scientist from FUAM to develop two varieties of cowpea known as FUAMPEA 1 early maturing and FUAMPEA 2, to boost cowpea production in marginal soils and increase the incomes of farmers in Northern Nigeria, the potential for cowpea farming in Benue state is higher than most states in the north.
He said: â€œThe new varieties have a potential to yield of 1.9 to 2.2kg/ha and are resistant to Striga gesnerioides and Alectra vogelii in Benue as against most local varieties grown in the country especially upper north recording yield of between 400kg and 600kg per hectare.”
The new varieties which were officially released by the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Varieties at its 28th meeting held on October 13, 2016 at the National Centre of Genetic Resources has improved the yield of farmers who were given the seeds in Benue and thought best practices in the cultivation of the crop .
In his remark at the event, Malam Umar Garba of Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) said he felt happy that cowpea could actually grow very well in Benue state.
He said cowpea is a crop that could generate a lot of foreign currency income for the country and called on the government to invest more in the crop which, he said, has more value health wise and financially than rice, maize and other crops.