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General News Mon, 4 Feb 2008

CRI develops two varieties of cowpea

Accra, Feb. 4, GNA - The Crop Research Institute (CRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed two varieties of cowpea for public use.

The varieties, which are on the market, were based on the results of on-station and on-farm evaluation, chemical composition and sensory evaluation done by the Institute.

Their development was to address the malnutrition problem among lactating mothers and children in the country where seven out of every ten pregnant women suffer from anaemia because of iron deficiency. The two varieties are IT87D-611-3 named "Nhyira" meaning Blessing in Akan and IT87D-2075 with the name "Tona" meaning Profit in Dagarti. Dr Hans Adu-Dapaah, chief research scientist and a plant breeder of CRI told the Ghana News Agency (GNA), in an interview that the Nhyira had an early maturing period (65-68 days), high yielding (2.3 tons per hectare), moderately resistant to virus, resistant to Anthracnose and Cercospora leaf spot, high in iron, energy and phosphorus contents, protein, tolerant to leaf hoppers, bold, white seed with brown eye and drought tolerant.

He explained that the Tona variety has high energy, phosphorus and iron, resistant to Cercospora leaf spot and viruses, resistant to leaf hoppers, medium maturing age of 71-80 days and drought tolerant. The two new varieties could be used for koose, tubani, gari and beans, rice and beans, cake, apapransa sausage rolls, jam rolls, pie, chips and can also be used in the school feeding programme based on their nutritional content.

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Dr Adu-Dapaah said cowpea was an important food legume crop indigenous to Africa and West Africa where it remained the main production area of the world. "Because cowpea was generally drought tolerant, it could be successfully grown even in marginal areas where some other crops may fail", he added.

Cowpea is a legume, which is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen for its use. He noted that apart from providing cash income for the farmers, cowpea also supplied the bulk of plant protein in the diets of most people in West Africa. "The Cowpea leaves, green pods, green peas and dry seeds are all consumed as human food while the fresh and dry haulms provide fodder for livestock.

Major constraints to cowpea include insect pest (thrips, pod sucking bugs and storage weevils), fungal, bacterial and viral diseases, Striga gesnerioides and drought". Dr Adu-Dapaah said cowpea breeding at the CRI focused on the development of varieties that were early to medium maturing, resistant to all the major constraints. He asked Ghanaians to partonise the two cowpea varieties for their nutritional needs for proper growth to solve the malnutrition. He noted that the demand for the seeds was so high and called on government to assist in providing funds for increased production to feed farmers and the market. O4 Feb.08

Source: GNA
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