Pod Borer Resistant Maruca (PBR) Cowpea

The PBR Cowpea Project is a public-private partnership that has developed and is disseminating cowpea with resistance to Maruca pod borer for increased productivity.
Cowpea is one of the most important legume food crops in Sub-Saharan Af¬rica where it constitutes the major pro¬tein source for low-income people both in rural and urban centers. Cowpea production is affected by insect pests, especially Maruca pod borer, that causes the largest loss to cultivation, reducing grain yield by up to 80% and lowering quality of the grain. For the for the benefit of African farmers, African scientists identified PBR Cowpea (Bt cowpea), with in-built protection against Maruca damage, as a solution for Maruca Damage.

PBR Cowpea has been developed through a public-private partnership coordinated by AATF and bringing together leading African and international institutions.
The Project is implemented in Burki¬na Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Malawi. Over the last 11 years, it has recorded significant milestones including the first commercial release of the product in Nigeria and the world.
The Cowpea, known as PBR Cowpea, will increase production through control of Maruca pod borer. The benefits will include larger harvests, higher incomes and improved health through the reduced need for harmful treatments.

Vision of Success/Goal
1) Reach at least 2 million households; 12 million farm family members in the 12 countries.
2) Increase maize productivity by at least 30%
3) Enhance incomes by at least 20% for those households involved in the maize value chain
4) At least 40%-women and 25%-youth involvement in the maize value chain by 2020
5) 12 million tons of maize grain generated from the Maize value chain


To improve cowpea productivity and production in Africa by developing and disseminating Maruca-resistant cowpea to cowpea growers for better harvests.

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.

Farmers in Nigeria will be able to access the PBR Cowpea from seed companies once production is finalized. In the other countries, farmers will be able to access the PBR Cowpea once its safety complies with national and international standards and approval for environmental release granted by the relevant competent authority for the GM regulatory process

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.

Demand for PBR Cowpea seed, will have a positive impact on the seed businesses that will produce and distribute quality seed.



The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) USAID supports the Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea Project in addition to Nitrogen-Use Efficient, Water-Use Efficient, Salt-Tolerant Rice Project; and TELA Maize Project.

Project Contacts


Dr. Issoufou Kollo Abdourhamane

Project Manager


Achievements/key numbers

• 20% – Estimated boost to farmer harvest with use of PBR cowpea

• The project has reduced use of pesticide in cowpea cultivation from the usual 6-8 applications to only two during a season