The Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Nigeria’s National Biotechnology Development Agency, launched a nutrition outreach “Eating is Believing” to increase consumption of Bt cowpea, Nigeria’s first biotech food crop.
The advocacy event launched in Lagos with the support of agricultural experts, food scientists and nutritionists, featured nutrition education and a live sensory evaluation of Bt cowpea that had catering professionals cook the crop in various forms such as bean cake (akara), bean pudding (moimoi) and beans.
Delivering remarks at the event, Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Mission Nigeria, Gerald Smith, said the new bean will improve nutrition and food security across Nigeria.
He noted that ‘Eating is Believing” will reinforce the safety of the new bean and promote the nutritional facts and health benefits of the transgenic bean.
“The commercialization of the transgenic bean underscores that extensive food safety studies were conducted to demonstrate that it is safe for human consumption,” Smith stated.
Smith added that the outreach campaign is a community engagement activity that seeks to boost the demand for Bt cowpea and healthy bean-based food products.
“The live evaluation addressed critical issues about taste and preference and the eventual planting of Bt cowpea by smallholder farmers will contribute to Nigeria’s production goals, thereby serving as a model for other countries across sub-Saharan Africa,” Smith noted.
The Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria partnered with National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation, (AATF), National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa and the All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) to organize this significant nutrition and food security outreach.
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is the overseas arm of the United States Department of Agriculture. It offers a variety of services to American and Nigerian agribusiness companies, government and non-government entities involved in agricultural trade and development. Through a variety of programs, the FAS helps developing countries strengthen sustainable agricultural practices by providing capacity building opportunities.