Project Brief & FAQs

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Project Brief

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 12.8 million hectares of land. It is rich in quality protein and has energy content almost equivalent to that of cereal grains, is a good source of quality fodder for livestock and also 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 on farmers’ fields. Efforts are under way to develop improved varieties of cowpea that can withstand such stresses, and enhance farmers’ grain and fodder production. As a part of this effort, AATF is collaborating in a public/private sector partnership project to promote technological interventions that will optimise cowpea productivity and utilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cowpea productivity improvement project FAQ

Why do we need Maruca-resistant cowpea?
Farmers in west Africa have identified Maruca insects as major problems in cowpea production. The damage caused by Maruca to cowpea plants reduces the size and quality of the cowpea harvest. Conventional insecticides can be used to control this pest, but they are expensive, their availability to farmers is limited, and due to inadequate training in their use, often lead to unintended human safety impacts. The deployment of a transgenic cowpea product that is capable of protecting itself from attack by Maruca will make it easier and cheaper for farmers to produce cowpeas in areas where this pest is a problem. Download pdf

Cowpea Confined field trials FAQ

What are confined field trials and why are they needed?
Confined field trials (CFT) are field experiments carried out to evaluate the performance of genetically modified (GM) plants. They are an essential step for technology assessment and development. CFTs are carried out under stringent terms and conditions that confine the experimental material. They are similar to field experiments done for conventional breeding, but plant material and genes are confined to a limited area. Download pdf

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