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Farmers health and wellbeing are guaranteed with BT cowpea- Former CSIR DG, Professor Sandow


A former Director General of Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Professor Walter Sandow Alhassan has advised cowpea farmers in the country to ignore misinformation and disinformation about Biotechnology cowpea (BT).

Professor Sandow who is also senior county program advisor for biosafety system of International Food policy Research Institute in Washington, U.S assured farmers that their health and wellbeing are guaranteed with BT cowpea compared to the conventional one commonly called beans. 

Professor Walter Sandow explained that the new technology will cure the deadly cowpea pest known as maruca and reduce drastically the number of times farmers spray chemicals.

He was speaking to Zaa News at Tinkurugu in the Nanton district during Open Farum on Biotechnology Ghana engagement with over 150 cowpea farmers on the progress so far on commercialization and environmental release of BT cowpea.

The conventional way of cultivating cowpea according to Professor Sandow has become tedious, expensive and unhealthy to farmers.

The BT cowpea variety the former CSIR DG advised farmers is cheaper, more healthy and high yielding.

About the cowpea

The grain legume crop according to the scientist is a cheap source of protein contributing to about 75% of households. Cowpea, the scientist maintain is well known for its potential to increase nutrition security, generate income for smallholder farmers and vendors along the value chain, and reduce poverty.

However, the biggest problem for cow pea farmers is Maruca pest which renders cowpea production unattractive in Ghana and across Africa. The larvae infest the flower buds, flowers, and the pod causing up to 80% yield loss in heavily infested areas.

This has led to farmers spray their fields between eight to 10 times within the eight-week growing cycle of the crop in order to get a good harvest.

Research Scientist with the biotechnology and Nuclear Agric Research Institute of the Ghana atomic energy commission, Dr Daniel Osei Ofosu attributed misconception and misinformation about GMO to scientist not being proactive in communicating their work to the public and assured journalists of their availability to explain the issues on their platforms.

Dr Daniel Osei Ofosu, Research scientist

National Coordinator of OFAB, Dr Richard Ampadu-Ameyaw explained that there is no evidence of anyone dying for eating GM food, stating that a number of consumables are made of GM including insulin used in treating diabetic patients. He reiterated their continuous openness with Ghanaians about scientist work and how bt cowpea can help improve farmers earnings.

Dr Ampadu-Ameyaw who works with the policy wing of the CSRI in Accra stated the BT cowpea has a lot of socio-economic benefit.

Some of the women cowpea farmers who spoke with Zaa News said they are convinced that the old way of cultivating cowpea was not helping them because of the number of times they had to spray and hope the BT seed would be made available in the next crop season. One of the farmers, Alhassan Sadia said spraying up to six or more times drains their little resources as peasant farmers.

Some cowpea farmers at Tinkurugu
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