First Genetically modified cowpea in Ghana
Genetically modified (GM) cowpea has cleared the first of the three regulatory hurdles in the way of commercialisation in Ghana.
- If it is commercialised, it will be the first GM crop grown in the country – a major milestone.
What is Cowpea?
- Cowpea, a black-eyed pea in some parts of the world – is a major source of protein in Ghana and the rest of the sub-continent.
- It is a staple and is integral to Ghana’s food security.
- Ghana is the fifth largest producer of cowpea in Africa.
- Especially in the northern part of Ghana, where it is second to groundnut in terms of area cultivated.
- Farmers of the area face many challenges, including an array of pests.
- The GM cowpea has been genetically engineered to resist the ‘Maruca pod borer’- the major pest in the region.
- The GM resistance will help decrease the amount of insecticide farmers have been using to control pests and increase yields.
- Insecticides are known to be deleterious to human health, but their use is on the rise throughout Africa.
About Maruca pod borer
- Marucavitrata is a pan-tropical insect pest of leguminous crops like pigeon pea, cowpea, mung bean and soybean.
- Its common names include the maruca pod borer, bean pod borer, soybean pod borer, mung moth, and the legume pod borer.
- The species was first described by Johan Christian Fabricius in 1787.
- It can cause losses of 20–80% on the harvests of cowpeas.
- Its feeding sites on plants are flower buds, flowers and young pods.