Cowpea is a major legume crop adapted to the semi-arid region of the West African Sahel. The crop supports families’ needs for self-provisioning, animal feeding, and income generation. This project endevors to achieve the development and the diffusion of new fodder and dual-purpose (grain and fodder use) cowpea cultivars. The new varieties will carry important quality traits and resistance to major pests in Southern Niger. The approach is multidisciplinary and participatory, to achieve the best integration into agricultural systems and social dynamics. The dissemination of plant breeding material will be done in the third year to extend the impact of the work to Mali and Burkina Faso.
This project will contribute to strengthening legume breeding in West Africa, and is fully in line with some goals of agroecological intensification, CCRP’s main funding priority. The project starts with participatory diagnostics in order to build a consistent social framework and baseline for the project. It will then combine innovative marker-assisted selection for pyramiding of insect and parasitic weed resistance with farmer-participatory testing of breeding materials in multi-location trials. The role, needs and preferences of women in the cowpea value chain will thereby be addressed.
Outputs and Outcomes:
A participatory diagnosis of cowpea production diversification (dual purpose/fodder) will be provided, based on a transversal socio-economic framework involving all stakeholders and taking explicitly into account social, economic and environmental factors.
At least three new varieties of cowpea, locally adapted and improved for the targeted traits (pest resistance, quality of grain and fodder), will be developed based on participatory approach and marker-assisted selection, and directly diffused through the farmers’ network of the target zone.
A decision-support software, easy to handle and geographically-informed, will be developed for the spatial and eco-physiological monitoring of pest infestation and genotype performance.
The scientific and social partners involved in the project will be consolidated in terms of organization capacity, networking, participatory experience, and technical skills for further actions to sustain agricultural development.
Scientific publications will be edited (for scientists); technical documents and documentary films designated with farmers and shared for the large use of farmers (local language will be included); a policy brief will be developed for public stakeholders on the most important project outputs and lessons. The whole experience and results of the project will be shared and made visible on a website.
The project will train Master students (about 20 over four years) and two PhD students (INERA and University of Maradi); permanent staff (researchers, farmers’ union members, technicians) will also be trained through workshops, field work and other informal trainings.