By Regina Igwebuike 

Amawbia (Awka South LGA), May 4, 2021 (MOI) Mrs Grace Muojekwu, Director Extension Services, Anambra Ministry of Agriculture has expressed the government’s readiness to make the state food sufficient to combat hunger and food insecurity. 

Mrs Muojekwu gave the indication during the training on Pod-Borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea at Awka Zonal Agricultural Development Programmes (ADP) office, Amawbia on April 28. 

She said that the training, which was carried out simultaneously at the four ADP zones in the state was aimed at training farmers on PBR Cowpea, noting that Cowpea farming was not common in Anambra. 

Director said that the pod-borer resistant project was a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to promote technological interventions that would optimise Cowpea productivity and utilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

According to her, the PBR Cowpea will increase production through the control of Maruca pod-borer, resulting in larger harvests, higher income and improved health. 

Mrs Muojekwu urged the participants to listen attentively to the facilitator so as to be able to implement whatever they learnt once the seedlings were given to them. 

The facilitator, Mr Alex Izuako, Extension Agent ADP said that PBR Cowpea was a Cowpea with in-built protection against Maruca damage for increased productivity. 

Mr Izuako said that the best soil for the Cowpea was a well drained sandy loam to clay loam soil, preferably a site that was not planted in the previous year. 

He noted that as a legume, it replenished low fertility soils when the roots were left to decay. 

He advised that one should obtain PBR Cowpea seedlings from certified Agro Dealers or State Agricultural Development Projects so as to get the improved resistant seeds. 

The seeds according to him could be propagated manually with sticks or cutlass as well as mechanically at 2.4cm deep. 

The facilitator advised that the seeds be treated before planting with the recommended dressing chemicals in order to protect them against soil borne pests, diseases and animal attack before germination. 

He said that the Cowpea prevented erosion as it grew and provided Nitrogen readily to the soil. 

According to him, the seeds are planted when the rains were about to end for the year as it did not like much rain, explaining that spacing was 50cm between rows and 20cm furrow. 

Three are planted per hole and between 12 to 25kg seeds for 1ha or 22 plots. 

He said that germination could take place between four to seven days after planting and once the seeds germinate, you supply and thin. 

“Supplying means replanting of seeds to replace those that didn’t germinate, which can be done seven to eight days after sowing. 

“Thinning on the other hand is the removal of weak plants from stands to have a recommended crop plants per stand depending on spacing.’’ 

He said that it was better to weed as they appear either manually, chemically or mechanically depending on the size of the farm before applying fertilisers. 

He explained that Maruca Vitrata caused the largest pre-harvest damages, reduced grain yield and lowered grain quality. 

This he said should be controlled with insecticide, advising that one should wash the tank properly before administering the insecticide to avoid contamination with other chemicals thereby killing the crop. 

The diseases of the crop include leaf spot, Rot, Nematodes, Damping-off diseases and Rosette, which could be eradicated by the use of resistant varieties, fungicides, nematicides, removal and destruction of affected plants and crop rotation. 

Harvesting according to him is done manually by hand-picking as soon as pods are dry, saying that a combined harvester could be used where mechanised farming was adopted. 

He advised that one should fumigate the pods before storing them in an air tight and insect free container in a controlled environment to avoid weevils and rodents. 

Mrs Isabella Maduabuchi, Manager Awka Zonal ADP thanked the facilitator for a job well done.  According to her, there will be a follow up. The participants should internalise what was taught them even as she advised them to go back for site selection. (MOI)

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