Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)





Affiliated Countries

Mozambique and Tanzania


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)

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 identifies traits that are farmer and consumer preferred and market demand driven.

The Center of Innovation prioritizes the inclusion of farmers in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania in the process of designing and developing more productive and nutritious varieties while conducting 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.

Video spotlight

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…
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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