ZARIA – Scientists have said that the introduction of pest-resistant cowpea (beans) does not constitute a threat to biodiversity.
Prof Mohammed Ishyaku of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who is also the Lead researcher in the project, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Zaria on Friday.
He said although the research work encourages the planting of non-resistant varieties of cowpea, there was this variety would be cultivated across the country.
He explained that biodiversity constituted the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat which is absolutely essential to the health of the planet’s ecosystems.
“In the biological world, there is nothing like having total control of any phenomenon so the perception that we might completely extinct maruca from the system is not possible.
“For one reason or the other, there will always be non-maruca resistant varieties of cowpea growing.
“Also, organisms, if they are pushed, they will develop resistance in a bid to survive but it takes a very long time.
“So you can never exterminate them; so biodiversity will still be conserved otherwise we will have no TB for instance.’’
According to him, the war launched on the bacteria causing TB was unprecedented, yet the organism causing the disease still exists.
In a separate interview, Prof. Prince Addae, the West African Representative, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), corroborated Ishyaku’s view, saying that maruca will survive.
He said that as part of research to increase the length of time it takes for the maruca to mutate and develop resistance, the researchers were also deliberately planting non-resistant varieties of beans.
He said, however, that no matter the technology being deployed, it was not possible to completely exterminate a group of organisms.
“It is an ecosystem; you cannot destroy one whole group just like that no matter the technology.
“The question we have been trying to answer now is when there is no cowpea growing, where does maruca go?
“They go and hide in some other plants too, so we are trying to find the alternate hosts and what they do there.”
The AATF-funded research was carried out at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
It is hoped that the maruca-resistant cowpea variety would be released to farmers for planting by 2017. (NAN)