Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate Resilient Cowpea
Cowpea is an important grain legume in the diet of people in the Sudano-Sahelien region of West Africa. It contributes to the nutritional needs of the rural and semi urban populations of this region. In addition, it plays an important role in the generation of income. Here we propose to deploy state of the art genetic approaches to accelerate the breeding of new cowpea varieties in sub-Saharan Africa. Among a suite of traits relevant to yield and quality across the range of agroecologial zones within this drought-prone region, several abiotic stress tolerance traits will be within the scope of this project. These include resistance to the opportunistic fungal pathogen Macrophomina phaseolina, to which drought-stressed plants are predisposed to infection, tolerance against drought-induced rapid senescence, and heat tolerance during reproductive development. Our approach will address primary productivity constraints by reducing cowpea production costs and risks for enhanced profitability and competitiveness, and by enhancing the utilization of cowpea grain, food products and ingredients so as to expand market opportunities and improve human health, by promoting dietary nutritional value and the livelihoods of women. By advancing genetic knowledge resources and trait selection methods, coupled with training in the comprehensive application of these breeding protocols, significant gains in cowpea productivity can be made. The project is aiming at improving food availability and nutritional quality to smallholder producers and their communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, with focus on four countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal) in the Sudano-Sahelien region of West Africa.
The main goal of this project, through genetic mapping of trait determinants and deployment of dependable markers to West Africa’s leading cowpea breeders, is to enable distribution of improved seed for small farmer evaluations in sub-Saharan Africa, thereby supporting the development of more stable and productive agriculture in this region. As a corollary, progress made on cowpea to map critically important traits at a high level of genome resolution can be translated to other legumes for sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere. The long-term goal of the project is to improve food availability and nutritional quality to smallholder producers and their communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, with focus on four countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal) in the Sudano-Sahelien region of t West Africa.