The College of Agronomy, Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi (JOSTUM), Benue State, formerly known as the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) is set to release a new variety of cowpea, known as FUAMPEA 5. The College also noted that as part of efforts to boost food production, the release of the improved variety would enable farmers to get bumper harvests in the state and across the country. The University had earlier released other varieties of cowpea; FUAMPEA 3 & 4, which was an improvement of FUMPEA 1 & 2 developed in 2016 to suit the climatic weather of Benue’s geographic region. According to experts at the College of Agronomy, the new variety to be developed is expected to satisfy the yearnings of cowpea farmers across the country.
It was learnt that the need to develop a new variety was prompted by farmers and other stakeholders, who wanted the researchers to come up with a particular size and colour of cowpea as an improvement of other varieties. Speaking at the Farmers’ Field Day in Makurdi recently, Dr. Teryima Iorlamen, an Agronomist and the Seed Systems Principal Investigator of the Project said researchers are almost set to release the new variety. He explained, “We are almost set to release FUMPEA 5. After the release of the FUMPEA 3, which is brown and bigger, the farmers began to request for a white and bigger size cowpea. So, we are making the big seed”, he said. Iorlamen further explained that the new varieties are an improvement of previous cowpeas in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) under the Accelerated Varita Improvement and Seed System delivery in Africa (AVISA) programme and supported by Sygenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) alongside other seed companies.
The Agronomist further pointed out that FUMPEA is an improved cowpea seed variety which enables farmers to produce the early maturity duration, size, taste, colour or quality of the cowpea that they like. He also observed that FUMPEA would help farmers produce brown or white cowpea with a sweeter taste, adding that there were other new hybrids and early-maturity varieties available to farmers in the state as well as those within the north-central region to grow for commercial purposes. Iorlamen disclosed that a plant breeder in the JOSTUM College of Agronomy, Prof. Lucky Omoigui, developed the FUAMPEA in collaboration with the IITA and that all seven new improved varieties by the institution were available for farmers’ use. Prof. Omoigui is also the Seed System Specialist of AVISA currently being implemented in Nigeria and managed at the commercial farm of FUAM in collaboration with the IITA. The Country Coordinator, SFSA who was represented by his Project Assistant, Mojisola Olufemi, commended the scientists of the College for their efforts, stating the need for the commercialisation of improved varieties so they don’t end up on the shelves.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Director of Agricultural Sciences, Benue State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Thomas Unongo, said the state had continued to retain its status as the ‘Food Basket’ of the nation because of what the university had been doing to develop the agricultural sector. Acting Vice-Chancellor of JOSTUM, Prof. Paul Annune, noted that a lot was being done to transform the economic lives of women and youths following the activities of the college of agronomy. “If we are able to engage women and youths, who are being empowered properly, we will have no problem; idle hands make our youths fall prey. But, with a lot going on here, we can enhance food security in our environment. Our extension workers must do more to get these varietals to our rural farmers,” Prof. Annune observed.
Source: Nigerian Tribune