Project final report

Australian technology reaches the field: supporting and monitoring the release of Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea – Final Report

Date released
02 January 2024
Publication Code

Jose Barrero Sanchez, TJ Higgins, Dr Iliyasu Utono, Dr Aliyu Anchau, Mrs Rebecca Mewase, Professor Hajara Shuaibu, Professor E Ikani, Dr Bernard Ehirim and Dr Francis Onyekachi


This project aimed to assist in the dissemination and monitoring of the effects of the released Pod-Borer Resistant PBR cowpea in Nigeria.

Being the first introduction of a GM food crop in West Africa, it was thought necessary to oversee the post-release stewardship of the product and to monitor its effects at the farmers’ level. The goal was to produce an early assessment of the effectiveness of the Pod-Borer Resistant (PBR) cowpea and to evaluate its impact on the land and farmers growing this new crop. 

This research activity performed several studies in the 2022/2023 season of a sentinel sample of 80 farmer adopters of the PBR cowpea and compared them to 80 farmers growing conventional cowpea varieties. These selected farmers covered the 4 agroecological zones of Nigeria (Sahel, Sudan, Northern Guinea, and Southern Guinea savannah zones) where cowpea is traditionally grown and where the PBR cowpea is being commercialised.

The results from this project show that there was a clear comparative advantage of PBR-cowpea over non-PBR cowpea not only in terms of yield but also in factors related to the environment and human health. This study has also found strong support for the product and good adoption of the recommended stewardship practices.

In short, the results for the performance of the PBR cowpea in farmers’ fields in its second year of cultivation are very encouraging, supporting a positive impact of the PBR cowpea in many areas and providing a strong argument for the full-scale deployment of this biotechnology product. More broadly the results demonstrate how biotechnology, carefully targeted to address farmer’s needs, can assist in solving some of the big agricultural problems in Africa to improve food security for its people.