Technology to address pest infestation in Cowpea, as Ghana progresses in GMOs

Technology to address pest infestation in Cowpea

By Joyce Gyekye

Ghana is progressing steadily with the introduction of Genetically Modified Cowpea. Known locally as beans, Scientists at the Agricultural Research Institute at Nyankpala in the Northern Region, have completed work on a technology to address the huge pest infestation of the crop.

A dossier to that effect has been gazetted by the National Biosafety Authority. The document contains a request by the Researchers to environmentally release and market the beans. Joyce Gyekye reports that scientists at the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute, SARI of the CSIR have been conducting trials for the introduction of a gene into the black-eye beans that is mostly destroyed by a pest called maruca.

To reduce the pest infestation, farmers spray the plant about eight times before harvesting. This comes with cost to them as well as health and environmental issues.

Realizing this, Ghana, Nigeria and Burkina Faso agreed to an introduction of a gene that stops about 80% of destruction of the beans. The decade journey by the researchers has been completed and the dossier gazetted by the National Biosafety Authority; a body set up to regulate the safe use, handling and transportation of GMO’s in Ghana.

Dr. Jerry Nboyine is the Principal Investigator of GM Cowpea. He expressed optimism about the project. He also said there had been subsequent laboratory works by participating countries.

He clears the misconception about seed control by multinational biotech companies spread by anti-GM groups.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NBA, Eric Okoree, says the notice of dossier is for the relevant comments from the public within 60 days.

Nigeria released its GM Cowpea on the market about two year ago.

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