National Agriculture Research Institute(s)

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)

Crops

Cowpea

Location

Malawi

Affiliated Countries

Mozambique and Tanzania

Malawi

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)

Mozambique

Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM)

Tanzania

Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI –ILONGA) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)

Cowpea improvement for yield, disease resistance, adaptation, and nutrition security

Cowpea, a legume that thrives in sandy soil, offers enormous nutritional, socio-economic and soil health benefits in the arid regions of East Africa. But the crop’s productivity struggles against drought, heat, low soil fertility and pests, putting pressure on food security in the region.

With a goal to develop more nutritious, resilient lines of cowpea, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM) and the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI-ILONGA) join to form the Center of Innovation for Crop Improvement for East and Southern Africa (CICI-ESA). By characterizing phenotypic and genomic diversity and conducting genome-wide association studies of cowpea germplasm, the Center of Innovation will identify traits that are farmer and consumer preferred and market demand driven.

The Center of Innovation will prioritize the inclusion of farmers in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania in the process of designing and developing more productive and nutritious varieties and conduct a comprehensive analysis to understand specific gender and youth dynamics in the cowpea value chain. The release and use of stable high yielding, nutritionally rich, drought tolerant, disease resistant and early maturing varieties will increase productivity of the crop, and in doing so improve food security, reduce nutrition deficiencies and alleviate poverty, particularly amongst smallholder farmers, women and children.

The center will be a training hub for scientists who would would like to transform breeding practices using innovative and multi-disciplinary techniques that are more efficient and sensitive to local complexities in Malawi and countries within East and Southern African region.

Jessica Kampanje-PhiriCo-Principal Investigator

Photos from the field

Recent highlights

CICI-ESAProject updates
November 17, 2021

Capitalizing on time in the race to breed inclusive, resilient crops

As plant breeders around the world mobilize to breed staple crops adapted to rapidly changing environments, there is one critical element out of their control – time. How can breeding…
CICI-ESAProject updates
March 5, 2021

A new approach to an ancient crop: Elevating the potential of cowpea in Malawi

One of the first plant species ever domesticated, cowpea is also one of the world’s least understood crops. This seeming paradox holds tantalizing appeal for plant breeders in Africa: a…
CACCIACICI-ESACIFMSCIWAProject updates
October 1, 2020

Breeding crops for climate resilience: Visions from Haiti, Costa Rica, Uganda, Malawi, and Senegal

Written by: Hale Ann Tufan, Associate Director of the Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement This year has been rocked by unprecedented global turmoil. As disruptive as 2020 has been, the…

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