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Apr 16, 2010

IITA Releases 2 New Improved Cowpeas in Nigeria

The Institute for International Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based in Ibadan, Nigeria has announced that it has released two new improved cowpea varieties with the objective of increasing yields and farmer income.

The varieties were developed by scientists working at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; the University of Maiduguri, Borno; and the Agricultural Development Programs of Borno, Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina States.

The first variety, IT89KD-288 has been released as SAMPEA-11.  It is a "dual-purpose cowpea variety with large white seeds and a rough seed coat. It has combined resistance to major diseases including septoria leaf spot, scab, and bacterial blight, as well as to nematodes, and tolerance to Nigeria’s strain of Striga gesnerioides (a parasitic weed that severely lowers yield)."  According to IITA agronomist Dr. Alpha Kamara, "[i]t also has a yield advantage of at least 80% over the local varieties.”

The second variety, IT89KD-391 has been released as SAMPEA-12.  It is a "dual-purpose cowpea variety but it has medium-to-large brown seeds with a rough seed coat. These are preferred seed characteristics for commercial production in northeast Nigeria."  According to Dr. Hakeem Ajeigbe, IITA Extension/Dissemination Specialist, IT89KD-391 is an improvement over previously released varieites including SAMPEA 7, Ife brown, IT90K-76, and IT90K-82-2.  In his opinion, [t]he variety performs well as a sole crop and an intercrop. It could also be planted as a relay crop with maize in the Guinea savannas. ... Several on-station and on-farm trials have shown that [it] produces double the yields of local cultivars."

It is unclear from the press release whether these varieties are gene-modified or produced through conventional hybridization breeding.

The release of these varieties were made ahead of the 5th World Cowpea Research Conference to be held from 27 September to 1 October 2010 in Dakar, Senegal.

Photo Credit: Theresa A.S. Aveling, 2009 courtesy of Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), "Future Forests and Food," Pretoria, South Africa.

For more see: "Improved cowpea varieties hit Nigeria’s savanna region," IITA Press Release, 16 April 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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