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OFAB campaigns benefits of genetically modified beans

DG NABDA, Prof Abdullahi Mustapha being served a meal made with BT Cowpea. Photo: Cinasa Ossai

The Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) through the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has embarked on a mobile kitchen campaign tagged “Eating is believing” in Abuja to demonstrate the safety and nutritional benefit of Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea, BT-Cowpea also known as Beans.

BT-Cowpea was produced to resist Pests, particularly pod borer (Maruca vitrata), which have hampered production of cowpea, the most important legume in the west African country.

Nigeria became the first country to approve open cultivation of the genetically modified (GM) BT-Cowpea.

Country Coordinator OFAB Nigeria, Dr Rose Gidado during the campaign said the move would promote and create awareness on the consumption of the Beans variety, encourage farmers to produce more and get Nigerians to believe in the technology.

Director-General of NABDA Prof Abdullahi Mustapha noted that the campaign was a major step in the eradication of hunger and starvation, while increasing revenue for farmers and food vendors as the variety was locally sourced.

“The feat attained with the development and commercialisation of the PBR Cowpea has again proven that if determined, Africa has what it takes to solve its challenges. Remember that it is about food and nutritional security, well-being of our farmers, improved income, less use of chemical sprays for environmental sustainability”

“This is a dream come through, I’ve been waiting for a long time, now I am tasting this beans and it is wonderful, I can’t wait for other countries like Ghana to follow suit”, Representative of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), West Africa, Dr Francis Onyekachi said, while as the Project Manager OFAB in Africa Vitumbiko Chinoko expressed excitement on the commercialisation and consumption of the BT Cowpea variety.

A nutritionist Dr Ifeoma Akaogu explained that although the variety was not developed for nutritional benefit but for resistant to pest, but have same nutrition with that of the conventional beans.

Participants at the “Eating is believing” Campaign, after tasting the meal made with the BT Cowpea variety said there was no difference in taste with the conventional beans variety.

The campaign was part of activities to climax the visit of Ghanaian delegation to Nigeria to understudying Nigeria’s Biotechnology and biosafety infrastructure for deregulation and commercialisation.

Reporting by Chinasa Ossai; editing by Muzha Kucha