Journalists have been schooled on the processes and development of Genetic Modified Organisms with emphasis on the Bt cowpea project in Ghana.
The education was done by Dr Jerry Nboyine, an Entomologist and Principal investigator at the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI) at Nyankpala in the Northern Region.
He was speaking to journalists when they called on him at Nyankpala, prior to a field visit which was part of a three-day training on understanding the role of Genetic Modified Organisms (GMOs) in agricultural production in Tamale,
It was organised by the Alliance for Science(AfS) – a network for scientists, farmers academics and communicators, in Partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology, the Ghana Agricultural and rural Development Journalists Association and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Dr Nboyiene reiterated the challenges in the cultivation of conventinal cowpea and efforts scientists were making over the years to improve upon the crop.
He said farmers hardly got one tonne of cowpea per hectare and its cultivation was associated with challenges such as insects, pests and spraying costs.
He said the crop was loved by insects such as the Maruca Vitrata and the legume pod borer that fed on the leaves and entered flowers of the crop which were impermeable, rendering chemicals being sprayed into the crop ineffective, therefore the insects cause damage leading to 80 per cent loss in yields in the crop.
He said the pod borer damage the flowers, attacks the pods that are green leading to fungi colonizing the crop.
He said that in developing cowpea, one of the solutions was finding resistant varieties that could resist pest damage and ensure environmentally friendly processes through the use of biotechnology tools to address the challenge the seed suffers.
Fatima Anafu-Astanga and Albert Futukpor