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Survey on cowpea [vigna unguiculata (l.) walp] cultivation in upper east region of Ghana

Author: 
Peter Haruna, Aaron Tettey Asare, Elvis Asare-Bediako and Francis Kusi
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp] is an important food crop with ability to enhance soil fertility. In northern Ghana, cowpea is the second most important crop after groundnut and a cheap source of protein in the diet, hence it is critical to improve production of the crop. This study assessed the demography, farm characteristics and extent of cowpea cultivation in the Upper East region of Ghana. Multi-stage random sampling technique was used to identify 200 respondents, 179 cowpea farmers and 21 agriculture extension officers in five cowpea growing districts involving closed and opened ended questions. Majority of the farmers (60.9 %) were males between the ages of 21 and 60 (85.5 %), who had no formal education (63.1 %). The agricultural extension officers (AEOs) involved in the study were all males, ranging from 21 years to 56 years, with Higher National Diploma (HND) (47.6 %). In all, 79 % of the cowpea farmers had average cowpea farm sizes of 1-5 acres indicating that cowpea cultivation in the region is on small scale, mostly by subsistent farmers. The level of cowpea cultivation is probably on the increase in the region due to recent access to improved seed and ready market. Farmers employ the use of pesticides and crop rotation in controlling pests and diseases on cowpea. Weed control on cowpea farms is mostly by the traditional weeding using the hoe and cutlass and the use of herbicides. The mode of conservation of cowpea grains includes the use of sieved ashes (42.9 %), insecticides (23.8 %) and plant extracts (9.5 %), involving dried powdered neem tree leaves. On the whole, cowpea is a promising economic crop towards food security and income generation but farm sizes are small. Therefore, cultivation of cowpea has to be given the needed priority and support for farmers to expand their farms to increase productivity.

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