As Nigeria gets set to adopt the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in cultivating beans, an expert has suggested that farmers still need to be trained on the open-pollinated system of farming as their knowledge on the system is still low.
Fasola Oluwarotimi, an agronomist told business a.m. in an interview that farmers should be trained and informed on the already tested and verified varieties of crops that have the potentials of making more yields without the use of GMOs for cultivation.
Oluwarotimi said, “We do not need to use GMO cowpea while the knowledge of the open-pollinated is still low. Let us train and inform our farmers on the improved varieties that can still give improved yield and benefit without the use of GMOs.”
The proposed adoption of GMO on cowpeas would require a lot of scientific and biology-based knowledge on whoever would carry out the cultivation but with the calibre of farmers in the country who have not received the required level of knowledge and information, Oluwarotimi reiterated that farmers would “require a lot of training and transfer of knowledge, adding that farmers and sellers need to be better educated on how to preserve without the use of harmful chemicals.”
In August 2019, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) announced that Nigeria is the first country to approve the use of biotech in the cultivation of beans but with the low-level knowledge most Nigerian farmers have on their farming techniques this development may be far from being implemented.
However, Oluwarotimi argued that “In the United States there is demand for non-genetically modified crops especially for soybeans and maize, why then are we going into the system”?
Similarly, he added that a GMO seed cannot be used again especially by our framers who are not yet used to the system.
Therefore, he pointed out that there are minimal advantages of using GMOs on crops which are mainly to increase yields for farmers and increase revenue for seed companies, adding that the economic benefit is more to foreign seed companies.
The adoption is coming from the backdrop of the incessant post-harvest losses farmers in the country are experiencing and it has been tested that GMO crops can withstand pest from been encroached on.
He, however, urged authorities and farmers to improve on basic agronomic activities that Nigerian crops can naturally have increased yield.
He said, “All our crops still have a wide margin of yield increase by simply improving on the agronomic practices which are; plant density, fertilisation, weed control, better extension services, irrigation, and other practices.”