Cowpea is an important source of protein in both urban and rural Nigeria; not surprising, therefore, is also the fact that Nigeria is also the largest producer and consumer of cowpea in all of Africa. But recently Nigeria has also become one of the world’s largest cowpea importers. Why is current production not meeting demand?
Crop protection and storage are two major barriers to cowpea production. Limited processing capacity of the crop also prohibits cowpea from reaching its commercial potential. At MARKETS, we are working to address these challenges.
MARKETS has started working with farmers in Kano and Niger states, introducing high-yield seeds and training farmers through on-farm demonstrations. We then help farmers access pesticides and fertilizers so that they can protect their harvests and increase their yields.
Additionally, we are supporting cowpea processors so that they can not only provide a ready market for Nigerian farmers, but also meet shifting consumer demand patterns. Nowadays, few consumers have time to prepare and grind cowpea into flour, an essential ingredient for traditional Nigerian dishes such as akara (fried cowpea paste), danwake (cowpea dumplings) and moin-moin (steamed cowpea paste). Instead, consumers are increasingly purchasing cowpea flour to make these dishes, just as they have begun to do with pounded yam flour and plantain fu-fu. By helping processors improve their mechanization processes, we help them to increase product shelf-life and better meet rising consumer demand for this quick and easy product.
MARKETS commercial partners, Convenient Home Foods& Beverages Limited (Kano) and El-Bhi Ventures (Minna), process cowpea flour for akara, danwake, and moin-moin, and represent a guaranteed market for farmers. By maximizing the value of cowpea through improved industrial processing, these processors ensure greater food security for the nation.