Food insecurity, poor family nutrition and low family income are major challenges for the majority of people living in rural areas in Mozambique. Among the factors contributing to those challenges, low agricultural productivity is one of the most important. One way of addressing these challenges is through the introduction of improved high yielding varieties of crops widely produced and consumed such as those of cowpea; and the adoption of improved cropping practices. Cowpea is an important crop and a major component of the food and cropping systems in Mozambique. The crop is becoming increasingly important as a source of family income particularly for women headed households through sales of fresh leaves, fresh pods and dry grain.The Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering of the Eduardo Mondlane University has been working on a cowpea breeding programme aimed at developing improved high-yielding varieties suitable for different consumer preferences and with resistance to major stresses (flower thrips, aphids, nematodes and drought). The programme has a wide range of materials combining different plant types, high yield, different resistance and market traits most of which are near to release. Most of these materials mature between 60 and 80 days and include those suitable for sole cropping as well as for intercrops. The project will evaluate these materials together with a range of preferred local varieties and assess their suitability for incorporation into diversified cropping systems in two regions in Mozambique. A participatory approach with farmer groups will be used and the groups will be networked to facilitate joint research and sharing of ideas and information.
The purpose of the project is to increase cowpea production and productivity in Mozambique to enhance food security, family nutrition and income. This will be achieved by developing and testing new improved cowpea varieties and improved cropping practices in the major cowpea growing areas of Northern and Southern regions using a farmer participatory research network. In this approach, farmers will be actively involved in the design and implementation of all project activities. The expected outcomes are more productive and sustainable cereal-legume cropping systems, and improved livelihoods and better nutrition for rural households; thus contributing to three program outcomes.