National Agriculture Research Institute(s)

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)



Affiliated Countries

Mozambique and Tanzania



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.

Where we work

Working together to develop more productive cowpea varieties that are farmer preferred, market driven, gender, youth and climate resilient 


Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)


Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM)


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

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

Project leaders

Project partners

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