Cowpea Square II

Lead Organization:

Centre de Cooperation Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Developpement

Partner Organizations:

CIRAD, Fuma Gaskiya, ICRISAT, INERA, INRAN, Mooribeen, UAM & UDDM

Community of Practice:

West Africa


Burkina Faso Niger




Smallholder farmers in Niger use cowpea grains for human consumption and as a source of protein while the cowpea husks (obtained after grain shelling) and haulms (dried leaves and residues) are used as fodder for feeding animals. Cowpea cultivation also contributes to bio-regeneration of the soil by nitrogen fixation and provides ground cover, improving water availability to crops and reducing erosion. Several cowpea varieties have been developed based on centralized (on-station) breeding programs, but many of these varieties are only adapted to high-input monocultures, while farmers generally use cereal-legume intercrop systems and no/fewer agrochemical inputs.
The performance of released varieties in terms of dual-purpose (grain and fodder) production is also limited. Moreover, the parasitic weed Striga gesneroides causes severe damage to cowpea in West Africa. While some sources of genetic resistance are available, the utility of resistance in the field is compromised by the diverse races of Striga and the interaction of Striga infestation with variable environmental conditions.

Grant Aims:

The purpose of this request is to enhance cowpea varietal diversity and the set of technical practices available to fit farmers’ needs of cowpea production (grain, haulm) and processing (food, fodder) in a contextualized manner at selected locations in Niger and Burkina Faso. The project also aims to reinforce synergies with diverse stakeholders to promote the scaling up and impact of dual-purpose cowpea in terms of agroecological intensification, income generation, and nutrition. The project will continue to work in synergy with other CCRP-funded projects, including Child Nutrition (nutrition, processing), 3F (intercropping, management options), Sahel IPM (biological control), Women Fields, and Cati-Gao (on-farm testing). The project will also reinforce local partner capacity through an inclusive and collegial project governance that will enhance project management efficiency and favor the leadership of farmers and young researchers. Farmer-researcher co-creation is integrated in all activities. Thus, the project is well aligned with CCRP priorities such as agroecological intensification, legume integration, contextualized farmer research network approaches, and capacity strengthening activities.

Outputs and Outcomes:

Project outputs include:

  • A dynamic cartography of local context and decision support tools adapted to local agrosystems
  • The release of new cowpea varieties (dual purpose performance, cycle adaptation, resistance to Striga, etc.) developed from local landraces crossed with donor parents and fitting farmers management practices (intercropping options) and farmers local contexts
  • Optimized options of food processing and fodder production based on local practices and adapted to actors (women processors, farmers/animal breeders)
  • A functional synergy among projects linked through the Maradi Hub, with activities of capacity building and support to agroecological intensification based on the best experiences and options developed through Cowpea Square and collaborating projects

Project outcomes will include:

  • Progress in transdisciplinary processes and participatory breeding to favor the interaction of farmers with researchers for produce more efficient results
  • Reinforcement of farmers organizations’ capacities in terms of participatory research with scientific partners, and in the development of agroecological intensification options
  • Strengthening of young researchers and students in terms of participatory/collaborative research that bring the work close to farmers’ needs
  • Reinforcement of individual farmers and processors’ capacities and options for increasing their outcome and diversifying their agricultural systems


  • Advancing together · Overview of the CCRP Portfolio in West Africa as of 2020

    West Africa