With the 2021 wet farming season approaching, a percentage of farmers in the country cannot wait to start planting Bacilius thuringiensis (Bt) cowpea and cotton genetically modified (GM) to resist pests and diseases.
The farmers who spoke to journalists during a field tour organized by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) in Adamawa State said the two GM crops approved by the Federal Government for commercialization will improve plant yields and invariably turn their financial fortunes around.
One of the farmers, Ibrahim Kem, who participated in the field trials of the Bt cotton said the seed of the genetically modified cowpea had unique feature in that it gives producers multiple bolls, superior lint with quality and high fibre strength.
The local cotton varieties they are familiar with, according to him, are always stunted in growth as well as infested with insects and require sprays with insecticides while the hybrid Bt cotton varieties produce much more number bolls with minimal insect infestation.
Similarly, Gumnijir Tambaya, another beans farmer, said the Sampea 20-T variety was different from the local varieties they had been cultivating.
“The cowpea is resistant to those pests that destroy the local varieties. The transformation resulting to the Bt beans has made it possible for farmers to spray only twice instead of the normal eight times recorded in the case of the local cowpea. It takes only 75-80 days to harvest,” he added.
The OFAB Nigeria chapter country coordinator, Dr Rose Gidado, explained that Bt cotton had the potential to speed up revival of the moribund ginnery in Adamawa.
“The ginnery managed by the Association Francaise Cotonniere (AFCOT); a French cotton association became moribund due to inadequate supply of local raw materials. The new cotton breed is expected to bridge this gap,” she said.
Gidado assured the farmers of ready markets for their produce, saying there are off-takers in the textile industries who are available to buy the cotton after harvest.