Better livelihoods from improved dual-purpose cowpea

Women farmers in a cowpea field. Photo by Sato Muranaka.
Women farmers in a cowpea field. Photo by Sato Muranaka.

Resource-poor cowpea farmers in northern Nigeria have seen their profits jump an average of 55 percent due to impro
Cheap Ralph Lauren Companies  ved dual-purpose cowpea varieties that we and our partners developed and introduced.

Farmers who use traditional varieties earn about US$251 per hectare, while those who are growing the improved cowpea are getting matters, which is shopbust because   US$390, or US$139 more, per hectare with proper crop management.

The improved varieties: IT89KD-288, IT89KD-391, IT97K-499-35, and IT93K-452-1 produce high-quality grains that are used by farmers for food and fodder. They are also resistant to Striga, a parasitic weed that reduces yields of susceptible local cowpeas by as much as 80 percent.

Over 100,000 farmers in Borno and Kano states in northern Nigeria and in the Niger Republic are currently using the improved varieties, where their adoption rate is conservatively estimated at 65 percent.

Farmers in the savannah region view cowpea as both food and cash crop. When the varieties were introduced, farmers took to them readily since they serve both ends well. Those who cultivate the dual-purpose cowpeas are basically better off than those who do not.

The improved cowpea varieties were developed and deployed in partnership with the Borno State Agricultural Development Project, Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, Kaduna State Agricultural Development Project, the Institute of Agricultural Research – Zaria and the University of Maiduguri.

Other local development partners are promoting the improved varieties by organizing farmers’ field days, exchange visits, training and farmer-to-farmer diffusion.

Cowpea is a grain legume grown mainly in the savanna regions of the tropics and subtropics in Africa, Asia, and South America. Its grain contains about 25 percent protein, making it extremely valuable to those who cannot afford more expensive animal-derived protein sources such as meat and fish. It is tolerant to drought, fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and improves poor soils.

The FAO, about 7.56 million tons of cowpeas are produced worldwide annually, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 70%, or about 5.3 million tons, of global production.