A food security think-tank has urged Zambian smallholder farmers to plant drought-resistant cowpeas to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.
In its latest report, Africa Rising says its pilot project in Eastern Province proved rural populations can use cowpeas as both food and as a cash crop in more intense drought periods.
“Planting cowpeas is one of the effective strategies smallholder farmers must adopt to counteract the negative effects of climate variability and change in Zambia, which will face longer and more intense droughts as well as heat stress in coming years,” says Africa Rising, a sustainable food production initiative supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
According to Africa Rising, in addition to the high nutritional value, cowpeas also form part of the broader conservation agriculture and technological interventions to sustain food production.
“The legume has a multitude of other advantages such as bringing gradual improvements in soil fertility, providing groundcover, feed for cattle and goats, nutrition through green leaves and also grain which can either be consumed or sold.
“The varieties developed are well adapted to the environment in Zambia and will help farmers to diversify their current cereal-based cropping systems,” says Africa Rising.
Cowpeas have an overall yield of 723kg/ha and is sold to local buyers at K5 per kg.