Farmers involved in cowpea (beans) production in Benue State have welcomed efforts by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi for developing new varieties of the crop.
A big time cowpea farmer, Crucial Abua, told our correspondent that he owned 10 hectares of cowpea farm in Gboko area of the state and he had depended on the university for accurate information on best agronomy practices of the cowpea seedlings and the new ways of crop production that would enhance better yield.
Abua said he planted two dominant varieties of FUMPEA II and SAMPEA II (Samaru) cowpea in his farm last season, stressing that while the later manifested much infestation, the former had comparative advantage in management of pesticide.
“My workers started harvesting the FUMPEA II quite on time because of its early maturity and I can tell you that the level of infestation was less than two percent, meaning that infestation was near zero. But, for SAMPEA II, the infestation was much so I had to introduced IMI-Force, which was quite effective,” he explained.
The farmer, who hailed the researchers over opportunity to benefit from their knowledge noted that their consistency in ensuring improvement of the cowpea seed system for the benefit of food sufficiency was worthwhile
He added that the involvement of farmers from scratch before releasing the seed was quite innovative as it helped them to select their favourite seeds and the vanities they love best.
Another big cowpea farmer, Godwin Donko, a former council chairman of Makurdi local government area, explained that he planted the institution’s FUMPEA1 at the start of his farming project in 2017 at a small field and reaped 15 bags of 100kg cowpea, adding that, in 2018, he moved to the present expanded farm and harvested 35 bags of 100kg from which he made a lot of profit.
“The FUAMPEA 1 is different from other local seed. It is also tastier. I like the seed very much and have continued to cultivate it, “he said.
Our correspondent reports that farmers, who participated in plant breeding -process of improving seeds- have opportunities to determine sizes or colours of seeds they want the plant breeders to develop for them.
For instance, the 2016 release of FUMPEA 1 and 2 by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi (FUAM) in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was made possible by Prof. Lucky Omoigui, a plant breeder in the institution’s College of Agronomy.
Before, the release of FUMPEA, Benue farmers hardly cultivate cowpea in commercial quantity because the old variety available to them were susceptible to weevil, non-drought resistance and non-high yielding among other disadvantages.
Presently, however many farmers have switch interest to cultivating the crop not just for income generation in commercial quantity but for its nutrient value for their families.