New High Yielding Cowpea Varieties Released

The Institut de l'Environment et des Recherches Agricole in Burkina Faso and the Institut Senegalais de Recherches Agricole in Senegal, released improved cowpea varieties with enhanced traits combined with resistances to insects and diseases.

The Institut de l'Environment et des Recherches Agricole (INERA) in Burkina Faso and the Institut Senegalais de Recherches Agricole (ISRA) in Senegal released several improved cowpea varieties in 2011 and 2012 with enhanced yield and grain quality traits combined with resistances to critical insects and diseases. One of these varieties, Pakau, released in Senegal in 2011, is an early maturing (60 days) cowpea variety, important for food security during the hunger period in the Sahel, with enhanced resistance to aphid and thrips, pests whose destructiveness is economically significant. These varieties, released for commercial production, were developed through long-term collaboration with cowpea scientists at the University of California, Riverside, with financial support from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP.

INERA in Burkina Faso has formally released five new cowpea varieties (IT98K-205-8l, KVx421-2J, KVX442-3-25, KVx771-10 and KVx735-33-2) along with Melakh, a CRSP cowpea variety bred in Senegal that was found to be an excellent performer in Burkina Faso. Average yields of 1250 kg/ha have been obtained from these new varieties—approximately 50 to 100 percent greater than cowpea yields commonly obtained by smallholder farmers in the region.

To ensure farmer access to quality seed of these newly released cowpea varieties, the Pulse CRSP has supported the production of 2000 Kg of Foundation Seed in Senegal and 50 MT of Foundation Seed in Burkina Faso; this seed has been distributed to Certified Seed Producers for multiplication. Farmer and consumer assessments of these varieties indicate a potential for wide adoption and acceptance, including in neighboring countries (e.g., Mali, Ghana, and Niger) with similar agroecologies.

U.S. agriculture also derives major benefits from the collaborative cowpea breeding research supported by the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP. During this current grant period in California, UCR released the new blackeye cowpea variety CB50, which boasts of larger, brighter white seed coupled with enhanced nematode and Fusarium wilt resistance. Significant commercial demand has already been observed for this variety due to its premium quality for export markets.

For more information on these new cowpea varieties , see the 2011 Technical Progress Report and the 2011 Technical Highlights Report for the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP or contact Dr. Philip A. Roberts, University of California, Riverside, at or the Pulse CRSP management office at


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