CPea growers in Benue state have learned to use the “three-bag” technique to store their produce long-term after each year’s harvest.
Just now the Faculty of Agriculture at Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University Makurdi (JOSTUM) is about to release a new improved variety of cowpea to help farmers increase food production.
Our correspondent reports that during this year’s field days organized by the Faculty of Agriculture, farmers learned about the correct use of this technology, so-called “airtight” bags.
Follow-up to the technology, farmers feared they would not be able to prevent weevils from destroying the cowpeas they harvested, a development that often led them to use chemicals on their produce for safe preservation.
But Dr Teryima Iorlamen, an agronomist who mentors farmers, said the use of chemicals on cowpea to curb waste often resulted in the product being rejected in export markets.
During a farmers field day in Makurdi on Wednesday, Iorlamen, together with his assistants, demonstrated how to use the three-bag technique correctly to achieve the desired results.
He said: “The three-bag technology helps to store the cowpea properly without worrying about spoilage. The bag is airtight. If you stick to the technology, the cowpea will be stored in the store for two years without any problems.”
He further showed the farmers how the harvested cowpeas were dried in bags and how to tie the bags securely before placing them in well-arranged stores with proper humidity.
Earlier, Iorlamen revealed that researchers at the Faculty of Agriculture were almost ready to release a new variety.
The new variety, expected to be called FUAMPEA 5, was developed to meet the needs of cowpea farmers across the country, he said.
The institution, formerly known as the Federal University of Agriculture in Makuldi (FUAM), had earlier released some varieties called FUAMPEA 3 and 4, which were developed in 2016 for FUAMPEA 1 to adapt to the weather, according to this newspaper reporter. and 2 Geographical Areas of Modified or Benue.
The agronomist said the development was driven by necessary feedback from farmers and other stakeholders who wanted researchers to come up with specific sizes and colors of cowpea as improvements for other varieties.
“We are about to release FUMPEA 5. After the release of FUMPEA 3 Number 4 was brown and larger, and farmers started asking for larger white cowpeas. So, we’re making big seeds,” he said.
Iorlamen explained that the new variety, developed by Lucky Omoigui, a professor at JOSTUM’s Department of Plant Breeding and Seed Science, in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), under the AVISA program and supported by the Sygenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), will further Put universities on the global map.
He maintains that FUMPEA is an improved variety of cowpea seed that enables farmers to produce cowpeas of the duration of early maturity, size, taste, color or quality they prefer.
His submitted FUMPEA will help farmers produce sweeter-tasting brown or white cowpeas. He added that other new hybrid and early-maturing varieties are also available for commercial planting by farmers in the state, as well as those in the north-central region.
Iorlamen added that Omoigui, a professor of plant breeding and genetics, worked with IITA to develop all FUAMPEAs, and all seven of the institution’s improved varieties to date are now available to farmers.
Samuel Yima, a cowpea farmer who traveled all the way from Gboko for Field Day, exclaimed that the FUMPEA variety was the best thing that happened to him as a farmer.
Yima was very excited about the three-bag technology, saying: “I experienced a good thing today. Even this new breed with fodder can be used to feed my livestock and generate income for me at the same time.
Likewise, cowpea farmer Rosemary Ahoobo encourages other rural farmers to continue growing high-yielding varieties for consumption and income generation.
“I not only earn money from growing cowpeas, but also consuming them. It really helps me because my kids make all kinds of delicious dishes out of cowpeas, which they take to school every morning,” Ahoobo revealed.
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of SFSA was represented at the Field Day by his Program Assistant, Mojisola Olufemi, who commended the work done by the scientists of the Faculty of Agriculture, as she highlighted the need to commercialize improved varieties so they would not will end up on the shelves.
“It would be a disaster if we couldn’t do a good job here for the end user, which is why our organization is involved in the journey to commercialize these varieties. We bring them to farmers under the AVISA project,” added Olufemi.