New cowpea seed varieties developed
13 May 2020 | Business
The ministry's executive director, Percy Misika, said production of foundation seed of these varieties has already commenced at crop research stations across the country.
“The five newly-developed cowpea mutant varieties are an addition to three existing cowpea varieties - nakare, bira and shindimba - and will contribute immensely to food security at both household and national level.
“The ministry will ensure that there is sufficient quality certified seed of these new varieties for distribution to the farming community across the country,” he said.
Misika added that crop production provides basic sustenance for the majority of people living in the crop-growing regions of Namibia, who depend mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods. Sustained increase in agricultural production and productivity depends to a large extent on the development of new and varieties of crops and efficient systems for the timely supply of inputs.
The government through the agriculture ministry and International Atomic Energy Agency in 2009 initiated a research collaboration project, NAM5009, on induced mutation breeding.
The project was implemented from the 2009/10 to 2016/17 cropping seasons by the directorate of agricultural research and development at three of the ministerial crop research stations - Bagani, Mannheim and Omahenene in the Kavango East, Oshikoto and Omusati regions respectively.
The main objective of the project was to apply mutation-breeding techniques to develop high-yielding, early-maturing, drought-tolerant and insect-pest and disease-resistant crop varieties, Misika explained.
“Under this project three major stable crops, namely pearl millet, sorghum and cowpea seed selected varieties were exposed to irradiation using gamma rays at the International Atomic Energy Agency Seibersdorf Laboratories in Vienna Austria,” he said.
Seven cowpea mutant varieties were selected, from which five varieties were sent to the Seed Services Institute in Zimbabwe for Distinct, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) tests. The tests assess whether the released varieties differ from existing varieties in at least one morphological characteristic at the vegetative, flowering and pre-harvesting stage of crop development.
The five cowpea mutant varieties passed the DUS test.