Nigeria has released two new cowpea varieties to raise production and improve farmersâ€™ incomes.
The varietiesâ€”IT89KD-288 and IT89KD-391â€”were developed by scientists working at IITA, Ibadan, in collaboration with the Institute for Agricultural Research of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Maiduguri, Borno; and the Agricultural Development Programs of Borno, Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina States.
Both varieties have proven to be superior over the current improved lines being cultivated. They could be used to overcome the challenges faced by cowpea farmers in the country.
For instance, IT89KD-288 (now SAMPEA-11) 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 for Nigeriaâ€™s strain of Striga gesnerioides (a parasitic weed that severely lowers yield).
â€œIt also has a yield advantage of at least 80% over the local varieties,â€ said Alpha Kamara, IITA Agronomist, who is leading efforts to rapidly disseminate the varieties to farmers.
The nematode-resistant variety is an equally good candidate for sowing with cereals or as a relay crop with maize in the moist and dry savanna zones, and for high grain production in the dry season.
Scientists recommend that the variety be planted in mid-July in the Sudan savanna, early to mid-August in the northern Guinea savanna, and by the end of August in the southern Guinea savanna. However, if there is certainty of rains up till the end of October, IT89KD-288 can be planted in September.
IT89KD-391 (now SAMPEA-12) is also 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.
â€œIT89KD-391 is a welcome improvement over SAMPEA 7, Ife brown, IT90K-76, and IT90K-82-2 which are the main improved brown-seeded varieties available. It has been tested extensively in this area and is well accepted by the farmers,â€ said Hakeem Ajeigbe, IITA Extension/Dissemination Specialist.
â€œThe 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,â€ he added.
Several on-station and on-farm trials have shown that IT89KD-391 (SAMPEA 12) produces double the yields of local cultivars.
In 2008, Nigeria released a Striga-resistant improved cowpea variety (IT97K-499-35).
â€œThe demand for these improved varieties is high because of their superior yields and their acceptability by consumers,â€ Kamara said.