Improving the production and utilization of cowpea as food and fodder
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) is an important food legume and an integral part of traditional cropping systems in the semi-arid regions of the tropics. The estimated worldwide area under cowpea is about 14 million ha of which West Africa alone accounts for about 9.3 million ha with annual production of about 2.9 Mt. Cowpea grains are consumed as food and the haulms are fed to livestock as a nutritious fodder. Farmers often grow a short-duration spreading variety for grain and a long-duration spreading variety for fodder, but the grain and fodder yields are poor due to low yield potential of the spreading varieties and also due to early cessation of rains. Therefore, IITA in collaboration with ILRI has initiated a systematic programme to develop medium-maturing, semi-erect, dual-purpose varieties with higher grain and fodder yields and with enhanced fodder quality. By crossing the late, traditional spreading varieties with improved early, semi-erect varieties, a semi-erect group of medium-maturing, dual-purpose varieties has been developed which yield over 1.5 t ha−1 grain and 2.5 t ha−1 haulms. Despite the high grain and fodder yields, the haulms of improved dual-purpose varieties have similar crude protein content (17–18%) and dry matter digestibility (64–71%) compared to the local varieties. Controlled sheep feeding experiments have shown an average live weight gain of about 80 g per animal per day with 200–400 g per day of cowpea haulms as a supplement to a basal diet of sorghum stover. This was 100% higher than the average live weight gain of animals fed sorghum fodder alone. These results indicate that improved dual-purpose varieties can play an important role in enhancing crop–livestock integration in West Africa.
Needs assessment of cowpea production practices, constraints and utilization in South Africa
Cowpea is an important grain legume. Research and production of cowpea have been neglected in South Africa in the last three decades due to lack of funding and interest of researchers to work on the improvement of the crop. The consequence of these are that cultivated varieties are unimproved and the lack of knowledge of good agronomic practices worsen the limitations to cowpea production. In order to ascertain the extent of these problems and determine the needs of farmers, a baseline survey was conducted among cowpea production provinces of South Africa (Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and Mpumalanga) between 2004 and 2006 cropping seasons. Questionnaires were administered among farmers in co-operative societies. Data were collected on cropping systems, cultural practices, yield levels, constraints to production and utilization. Responses obtained from farmers were analysed using non-parametric or descriptive statistics. The data was summarised into averages, percentages or ranges. Results identified major production practices, importance and constraints to cowpea production in the provinces. The results form a useful pathway for needs towards the development of well-tailored breeding objectives to improve cowpea production in South Africa.
Development of cowpea cultivars and germplasm by the Bean/Cowpea CRSP
This paper reviews accomplishments in cowpea cultivar and germplasm development by the Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program (CRSP) which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development for a period of about 20 years. Drought-adapted, pest and disease resistant cultivars ‘Mouride’, ‘Melakh’ and ‘Ein El Gazal’ were developed for rainfed production in the tropical Sahelian zone of Africa. Cultivars ‘CRSP Niébé’ and ‘Lori Niébé’ which have seed and pod resistance to cowpea weevil and some disease resistance were developed for rainfed production in the tropical Savanna zone of West Africa. Cultivar ‘California Blackeye No. 27’ was developed for irrigated production in subtropical California, USA and is a semidwarf with heat tolerance and broad-based resistance to root-knot nematodes and Fusarium wilt. Various cultivars with persistent-green seed color including ‘Bettergreen’ and ‘Charleston Greenpack’ were bred for use in the food freezing industry in the USA. Germplasms were developed with unique traits including: snap-type pods, green manure/cover crop capabilities, heat tolerance during reproductive development, chilling tolerance during emergence, delayed leaf senescence as a mechanism of adaptation to mid-season drought and high grain yields, differences in stable carbon isotope discrimination, harvest index, rooting and plant water- and nutrient-relations traits, broad-based resistance to root-knot nematodes and Fusarium wilt, and resistance to flower thrips, cowpea aphid, lygus bug and cowpea weevil, and various quality traits including all-white and sweet grain. These germplasms provide a valuable resource for breeding additional cowpea cultivars for Africa and the USA.
Socio-economic Factors Influencing Adoption of Dual-purpose Cowpea Production Technologies in Bichi Local Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria
This study investigated the socio-economic factors influencing adoption of dual-purpose cowpea production (DPC) technologies among farmers in Bichi Local Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria. Data were collected with the use of questionnaire administered to 200 farmers selected randomly. Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and step-wise multiple regression were used to analyze the data. Findings indicated that 35.7% of the farmers were within 41-50 years. The largest percentage (24.5%) had a family size within the range of 11-15, with a mean of 8. Majority of the farmers had formal education, ranging from primary to post-secondary. They had more than 1ha of land, with a mean of 2.2ha. They all participated in one form of farmers’ organization or the other. The mean adoption rate was 77.5%. The use of improved seeds and insecticides had the highest adoption score (100%). Result of the correlation analysis indicated that level of education, household size, farming experience; number of ruminants owned, social participation and contact with extension agents were significantly related to technology adoption and hence, influenced adoption of DPC production technologies. Moreover, level of education, social participation and extension contact made the highest contribution in explaining variations in the differential adoption of the DPC production technologies among the farmers. It was concluded that educational level, social participation and extension contacts were the major socio-economic factors influencing adoption of the DPC production technologies. The need for improvements in promoting these factors, were therefore recommended.
Study on the Effects of Fresh Shoot Biomass of Tithonia diversifolia on the Germination, Growth and Yield of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.)
Studies on the effects of fresh shoot biomass of Tithonia diversifolia on the germination, growth performance and yield of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) were carried out at the experimental site of the Department of plant science of Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti in the 2011 and 2012 cropping seasons. Fresh shoots of Tithonia diversifolia were collected from the University environment and blended using pestle and mortar to make the fresh shoot biomass (FSB). The FSB was weighed into 50g, 100g, 150g and 200g and thoroughly mixed with collected soils in horticultural pots. The soil sample had already been autoclaved at 100oc for 24hr. The control experiment recorded the highest emergence percentage but similar to the 50g FSB of T. diversifolia recorded. Higher FSB resulted to lower emergence percentage. Growth parameters in terms of plant height stem girth, number of leaves per plant and leave area were highest in the 150g Tithonia diversifolia FSB but lowest in the control. The highest yield of cowpea was obtained in the 150g Tithonia diversifolia FSB applied pots which was similar to those of 100g FSB applied pots. The stimulatory growth factor and yield increase enhanced by FSB of Tithonia diversifolia is an indication that Tithonia diversifolia possesses no negative allelopathic effect on cowpea growth. The poor seedling emergence observed suggests that the land be left for some time to allow proper degrading of the Tithonia diversifolia before planting cowpea. This study further revealed that fallowed land occupied by Tithonia diversifolia could be successfully used to produce optimum cowpea yield. 
 Singh, B.B., Ajeigbe, H.A., Tarawali, S.A., Fernandez-Rivera, S. and Abubakar, M., 2003. Improving the production and utilization of cowpea as food and fodder. Field Crops Research, 84(1-2), pp.169-177.
 Asiwe, J.A.N., 2009. Needs assessment of cowpea production practices, constraints and utilization in South Africa. African Journal of Biotechnology, 8(20).
 Hall, A.E., Cisse, N., Thiaw, S., Elawad, H.O., Ehlers, J.D., Ismail, A.M., Fery, R.L., Roberts, P.A., Kitch, L.W., Murdock, L.L. and Boukar, O., 2003. Development of cowpea cultivars and germplasm by the Bean/Cowpea CRSP. Field Crops Research, 82(2-3), pp.103-134.
 Sani, A., Abubakar, B.Z., Yakubu, D.H., Atala, T.K. and Abubakar, L., 2014. Socio-economic factors influencing adoption of dual-purpose cowpea production technologies in Bichi Local Government Area of Kano State, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Agricultural Extension, Economics & Sociology, pp.257-274.
 Oluwafemi, A.B. and Olumide, A.T., 2013. Study on the effects of fresh shoot biomass of Tithonia diversifolia on the germination, growth and yield of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L.). Journal of Experimental Agriculture International, pp.1005-1011.