Cowpea Productivity Improvement – Guarding Against Insect Pests

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) is considered the most important food grain legume in the dry savannas of tropical Africa where it is grown on more than 12.5 million hectares. It is rich in quality protein and its energy content almost equal to that of cereal grains; it is a good source of quality fodder for livestock and provides cash income. Nearly 200 million people in Africa consume the crop. Many biotic and abiotic factors greatly reduce cowpea productivity in the traditional African farming systems. Among these constraints is the pod borer, Maruca vitrata, which perennially damages cowpea pods in the fields.

AATF is coordinating a a public/private sector partnership project to promote technological interventions that will optimise cowpea productivity and utilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT

The goal of the Pod-borer Resistant Cowpea Project is to develop and disseminate farmer-preferred and locally adapted Maruca-resistant cowpea varieties in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many biotic and abiotic factors greatly reduce cowpea productivity in the traditional African farming systems. Among these constraints is the pod borer, Maruca vitrata, which perennially damages cowpea pods in the fields leading to up to 80 percent of crop yield losses.

The Project has developed and cowpea varieties with a genetic trait that make the plant resistant to the borer, thereby providing farmers with an alternative to costly and hazardous insecticide spraying.

New varieties will improve nutrition and food security for about 8 million farmers and their families  and contribute to better health, environment and income for farmers through reduced spraying with insecticide to control the pod borer will be reduced. Smallholder farmers are expected to increase their yields by over 20 percent.