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**1. Taxonomy and Etymology:**
– Cowpeas belong to the Vigna genus, specifically Vigna unguiculata.
– The name “black-eyed peas” comes from the black spot on the hilum.
– “Unguiculata” in the scientific name means “with a small claw.”
– Common names for cowpeas include black-eye pea, southern pea, niebe, and crowder pea.
– Cultivated cowpeas fall under the V. unguiculata subspecies unguiculata classification.

**2. History and Global Significance:**
– Cowpeas originated in West Africa and are one of the oldest domesticated crops.
– The center of diversity for cowpeas is in West Africa.
– Nigeria and Niger contribute to 66% of the world’s cowpea production.
– Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Senegal are also significant cowpea producers.
– Cowpeas are a major cash crop in Central and West Africa, with daily consumption by around 200 million people globally.

**3. Production and Consumption:**
– Worldwide production of cowpeas amounts to 3 million tonnes annually.
– Cowpeas are cultivated on 12.5 million hectares of land.
– Insect infestations can lead to up to 90% yield loss in cowpea crops.
– Nigeria produced 3,647,115 tonnes of cowpeas in 2020, followed by Niger, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Senegal.
– Consumed by millions daily, cowpeas are crucial for food security in many regions.

**4. Culinary Use and Nutritional Value:**
– Cowpeas are grown for their edible beans, leaves, green seeds, and pods.
– They can be cooked in various dishes like stews, soups, and curries.
– Cowpeas are rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and proteins.
– They are a good source of energy and low in fat, contributing to a balanced diet.
– Cowpeas are used in infant formula and contain essential nutrients like folic acid.

**5. Challenges, Adaptations, and Pest Management:**
– Cowpeas face challenges like drought, heat, and cold.
– Genetic diversity is being utilized to improve tolerance to stresses and climate change.
– Institutions like the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture are developing stress-tolerant cowpea cultivars.
– Pest management is crucial for successful cowpea cultivation, with pests like the legume pod borer and cowpea weevil being major concerns.
– Various research studies focus on pest management, insect resistance, and genetic diversity in cowpeas.

Cowpea (Wikipedia)

The cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is an annual herbaceous legume from the genus Vigna. Its tolerance for sandy soil and low rainfall have made it an important crop in the semiarid regions across Africa and Asia. It requires very few inputs, as the plant's root nodules are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, making it a valuable crop for resource-poor farmers and well-suited to intercropping with other crops. The whole plant is used as forage for animals, with its use as cattle feed likely responsible for its name.

Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Vigna
V. unguiculata
Binomial name
Vigna unguiculata
  • Dolichos biflorus L.
  • Dolichos catiang L.
  • Dolichos catjang Burm.f. nom. illeg.
  • Dolichos catjang L.
  • Dolichos hastifolius Schnizl.
  • Dolichos lubia Forssk.
  • Dolichos melanophthalamus DC.
  • Dolichos monachalis Brot.
  • Dolichos obliquifolius Schnizl.
  • Dolichos sesquipedalis L.
  • Dolichos sinensis Forssk. nom. illeg.
  • Dolichos sinensis L.
  • Dolichos sphaerospermus (L.) DC.
  • Dolichos tranquebaricus Jacq.
  • Dolichos unguiculata L.
  • Dolichos unguiculatus Thunb.
  • Liebrechtsia scabra De Wild.
  • Phaseolus cylindricus L.
  • Phaseolus sphaerospermus L.
  • Phaseolus unguiculatus (L.) Piper
  • Scytalis hispida E.Mey.
  • Scytalis protracta E.Mey.
  • Scytalis tenuis E.Mey.
  • Vigna alba (G.Don) Baker f.
  • Vigna angustifoliolata Verdc.
  • Vigna baoulensis A.Chev.
  • Vigna catjang (Burm.f.) Walp.
  • Vigna coerulea Baker
  • Vigna dekindtiana Harms
  • Vigna hispida (E.Mey.) Walp.
  • Vigna huillensis Baker
  • Vigna malosana Baker
  • Vigna protracta (E.Mey.) Walp.
  • Vigna pubescens R.Wilczek
  • Vigna rhomboidea Burtt Davy
  • Vigna scabra (De Wild.) T.Durand & H.Durand
  • Vigna scabrida Burtt Davy
  • Vigna sesquipedalis (L.) F. Agcaoili nom. illeg.
  • Vigna sesquipedalis (L.) Fruwirth
  • Vigna sinensis (L.) Endl. ex Hassk. nom. illeg.
  • Vigna sinensis (L.) Savi ex Hausskn.
  • Vigna tenuis (E.Mey.) F.Dietr.
  • Vigna triloba var. stenophylla Harv.

Four subspecies of cowpeas are recognised, of which three are cultivated. A high level of morphological diversity is found within the species with large variations in the size, shape, and structure of the plant. Cowpeas can be erect, semierect (trailing), or climbing. The crop is mainly grown for its seeds, which are high in protein, although the leaves and immature seed pods can also be consumed.

Cowpeas were domesticated in Africa and are one of the oldest crops to be farmed. A second domestication event probably occurred in Asia, before they spread into Europe and the Americas. The seeds are usually cooked and made into stews and curries, or ground into flour or paste.

Most cowpeas are grown on the African continent, particularly in Nigeria and Niger, which account for 66% of world production. A 1997 estimate suggests that cowpeas are cultivated on 12.5 million hectares (31 million acres) of land, have a worldwide production of 3 million tonnes and are consumed by 200 million people on a daily basis. Insect infestation is a major constraint to the production of cowpea, sometimes causing over 90% loss in yield. The legume pod borer Maruca vitrata is the main preharvest pest of the cowpea and the cowpea weevil Callosobruchus maculatus the main postharvest pest.

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