Niger state, AATF articulate strategies to bridge Nigeria’s cowpea annual deficit as Niger allocates 20,000 hectares to cowpea seed production

Niger Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago (middle) with Dr Emmanuel Okogbenin (AATF Director of Product Development & Commericalisation) and Dr Jean Baptiste, AATF Regional Representative to his left, displaying the AATF 2023 to 2028 strategy. Photo: AATF

(Nigeria-Abuja: April 15, 2024) The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) has initiated a strategic partnership with the Niger State Government in North Central Nigeria, aimed at addressing the significant shortfall of over 500,000 metric tons of cowpea, a vital staple in the nation’s agricultural sector.

This collaboration emerged as a key outcome of a recent meeting held in Abuja between Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago and a delegation from AATF, led by Dr. Emmanuel Okogbenin, Director of Product Development and Commercialization.

Cowpea, also referred to as beans, holds a crucial position in Nigeria’s agricultural economy, serving as a primary source of protein and income for millions of households nationwide. However, persistent challenges such as pests, diseases, and environmental stresses have hindered cowpea production, resulting in a notable deficit in supply.

Dr. Okogbenin commended Governor Bago for his agricultural initiatives and commitment to ensuring food sufficiency for the nation. He said that the partnership between AATF and the Niger State Government represents a proactive approach towards addressing the challenges faced by cowpea farmers across the country. “By leveraging AATF’s expertise in agricultural research and technology development, the collaboration aims to introduce innovative solutions to enhance cowpea production and resilience,” he stated.

Dr. Okogbenin emphasized AATF’s longstanding presence in Nigeria, spanning over 15 years, during which the foundation has been instrumental in delivering technologies to smallholder farmers in the region. He expressed AATF’s readiness to serve as a strategic technical partner to the Niger State Government in accelerating the transfer of agricultural technology to farmers in the state.

He highlighted several technologies offered by AATF, including TELA maize, a variety resistant to major insect pests such as Fall armyworms and stem borers, as well as drought-tolerant high-yielding maize hybrids. Additionally, he mentioned Hybrid rice, boasting yields exceeding 10 metric tons per hectare, Pod Borer Resistant cowpea, which controls lepidopteran insect pests like the Legume pod borer, and Cassava mechanization, aimed at consolidating Nigeria’s position as the world’s leading cassava producer.

Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago expressed optimism about the partnership, emphasizing its potential to revolutionize the agricultural landscape of Niger State and make significant contributions to Nigeria’s overall food security objectives. He reaffirmed the state government’s commitment to providing the necessary support and conducive environment for the successful implementation of the partnership.

Governor Bago tasked the AATF team with developing a national plan for cowpea production, with a pilot project in Niger State. He pledged to allocate 20,000 hectares of land exclusively for Pod Borer Resistant cowpea seed production, aiming to alleviate the deficit of 5 million metric tons in cowpea production and reduce import dependency on countries like Niger and Burkina Faso.

Also present at the meeting were Mr. Sammy Adigun, Chairman of Niger Foods, Mrs. Patience Koku, Executive Director of Niger Foods, Mr. Femi Koku, Managing Director of Replenish Farms, Dr. Francis Onyekachi, AATF Stewardship Manager, and Dr. Ijeoma Akogwu, AATF Program Officer. The Niger State Government pledged to integrate Pod Borer Resistant cowpea into mainstream agriculture nationwide to promote its widespread production.

About AATF (

Founded in 2003 to address Africa’s food security prospects through agricultural technology, AATF believes that the agricultural sector is a key foundational pillar as Africa consolidates its economic growth and carves out its new position as a major global economic powerhouse and the next growth market in the world. It was formed in response to the need for an effective mechanism that would facilitate and support negotiation for technology access and delivery and formation of appropriate partnerships to manage the development & deployment of innovative technologies for use by smallholder farmers in SSA.

For further information, Photos and video contact:

Alex Abutu Communication Officer (West and Central Africa) AATF. +2348068701960