Cowpeas, also known as black-eye peas or field peas in some parts of the world, are considered the most important food grain legume in the dry savannas of Africa. The cowpea is rich in protein and is an important crop for both tackling malnutrition and adapting to climate change as it tolerates hot, dry conditions.
This crop is grown on more than 12.5 million hectares of land and is a good source of food for livestock and provides good cash incomes for farmers. Unfortunately, infestation by an insect, specifically the Maruca vitrata pod borer, has led to yield losses of up to 80 percent and most farmers do not have access to effective insecticides.
The not-for-profit African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is addressing the problem with the following strategies:
- Accessing specific genes to protect cowpea against the Maruca pod borer.
- Facilitating licensing agreements and regulatory compliance for development.
- Providing product stewardship for responsible and sustainable use of the enhanced seeds.
Monsanto is proud to partner with the Network for the Genetic Improvement of Cowpea for Africa, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, the Kirkhouse Trust and several others to promote technological interventions that will help improve cowpea productivity. In doing so, the collaboration aims to improve the diet and income of smallholder farmers throughout Africa. Monsanto supports innovation sharing to give farmers enhanced tools and knowledge and the company has donated intellectual property to the project on a humanitarian basis under a royalty-free license.