Malawi to hold GMO cowpeas trials

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The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) has applied to the government for confined field trials for genetically modified organisms (GMO) pod borer-resistant cowpea varieties.LUANAR principal investigator Kingdom Kwapata said Tuesday that the trials are meant to evaluate agronomic performance and efficacy of cowpeas resistant to insect pest such as legume pod borer.

“The cowpea pod borer is a serious pest that is responsible, together with other insect pests for yield losses as high as 90 per cent in cowpeas producing countries such as Malawi,” he said.

He said the pod borer-resistant cowpea is being developed for smallholder cowpea farmers who may benefit from reduced need for insecticide sprays or increased grain quality and yield which could enhance nutritional well-being as well as economic status.

Kwapata said the genetically modified cowpeas have performed well in confined and multi-location field trials conducted since 2009 in countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

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