Australian technology reaches the field: supporting and monitoring the release of Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea

green plants layed out on black cloth next to a sign
Project code
AUD 250,000
Research program manager
Dr Eric Huttner
Project leader
Dr TJ Higgins
Commissioned organisation
JAN 2022
JUN 2023
Project status
Legally committed/Active
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This project aims to assist the dissemination of, and monitor the effects of, the release of Pod-borer Resistant Cowpea in Nigeria in 2022.

Nigeria is the largest producer of cowpea in the world and about 44% of the world’s cowpea is produced in Nigeria. Almost every household consumes cowpea in various cooked forms at least once a day. In Nigeria, cowpea is the main source of dietary protein and vital minerals such as iron, for the low-income people, and it is rightly referred to as the meat of the poor. Nigeria is also the largest importer of cowpea in Africa.

The release of Bt-based Pod-borer Resistant (PBR) Cowpea variety Sampea 20-T is the culmination of a breeding effort to introgress Bt-based resistance that commenced in 2003, overseen by CSIRO researcher TJ Higgins, and should overcome a major yield limitation to cowpea in Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

This project addresses 5 research questions:

  1. What are the field-based biological consequences of PBR cowpea compared to conventional cowpeas in Nigeria?
  2. Is adequate genetically-pure PBR cowpea seed being supplied to farmers in Nigeria?
  3. Are farmers adhering to the recommended field practices when introducing PBR cowpea?
  4. How do adopters compare to non-adopters after introduction, with respect to practices and results?
  5. What are the expectations from farmers in Ghana and Burkina Faso about PBR Cowpea future deployment?

Project outcomes

  • Establishing the technology’s biological and environmental performance in farmers’ fields, through rigorous surveys (e.g. insect surveys).
  • Assessing the level of implementation by farmers of recommended practices (technology stewardship).
  • Establishing the extent of farmers’ understanding and ability to apply stewardship programmes and good agronomic practices for cowpea.
  • Providing an independent estimate of the purity and quality of foundation seed: this information will be passed to the stewardship teams and seed producers for them to take action.
  • Enhancing capacity of extension officers and scientists to monitor in-field effects and perform stewardship studies.
Map of Africa showing Nigeria
Key partners
African Agricultural Technology Foundation