By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has reiterated its commitment not to renege on its promise of transforming farmers livelihood through innovative agricultural technologies that will improve incomes, food, and nutrition security in sub-Sharan Africa.
According to a statement signed by the Communication Officer (West and Central Africa) AATF, Alex Abutu, made available on Sunday February 19, Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin, AATF Director, Programme Development and Commercialization restated the commitment during the training programme organized to equip seed companies with necessary skills to undertaking dry season cowpea production in Kaduna.
Dr Okogbenin said that AATF will continue to promote agricultural innovation through public-private partnerships and advised the seed companies to take advantage of dry season production to complement wet season production which will ensure adequate supply of PBR cowpea seed to farmers. He also noted that farmers have been educated on the benefits of the product and they are waiting anxiously for more certified PBR cowpea seed from seed companies.
He expressed appreciation to Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) for the collaboration which produced the PBR cowpea.
Also speaking, Prof. Ishiyaku Mohammed, Executive Director, IAR, Zaria commended the collaboration with AATF that led to the development and release of Nigeria’s first genetically modified crop.
“Nigeria is now a reference point in areas of biotechnology products in Africa and we must continue to scale up production of this technology to make it available to farmers.
The Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea is a classic example of how technology can provide solutions to one of the major challenges confronting cowpea farming,” he said.
Prof. Mohammed noted that for many years plant breeders tried without success to find solution to the ravaging attacks of Maruca but the “collaboration between AATF and IAR led to the development of this great technology.”
He said, seed companies were pivotal to the commercialization of the PBR cowpea project and there is need for constant capacity building. “The PBR cowpea is a huge success in the biotechnology space in Nigeria and more seed companies are eager to take up the product. There are testimonies from farmers in terms of high yield, resistance to pod borer, improved income because of planting the PBR cowpea.”
He enjoined the participants to fully take advantage of the training which will build their capacity in PBR seed production.
He also encouraged the participants to always contact AATF/IAR for further questions/clarifications.
All the nine seed companies licensed to market the PBR cowpea attended the training which saw presentation from Dr Seydou Traore, Regional Energy Advisor, United States African Development Foundation, amongst others.
About AATF (www.aatf-africa.org)
Founded in 2003 to address Africa’s food security prospects through agricultural technology,
AATF believes that the agricultural sector is a key foundational pillar as Africa consolidates its economic growth and carves out its new position as a major global economic powerhouse and the next growth market in the world.
It was formed in response to the need for an effective mechanism that would facilitate and support negotiation for technology access and delivery and formation of appropriate partnerships to manage the development & deployment of innovative technologies for use by smallholder farmers in SSA