Notes to broadcasters
Cowpea is grown on more hectares than any other legume crop in Ghana, and is the second biggest legume in terms of total yield. Most cowpea in Ghana is grown in the northern savannah zone. But cowpea can be grown everywhere in the country.
Cowpea is an important and cheap source of protein for rural and urban families. Indeed, cowpea is often referred to as “the poor man’s meat” because of its high protein content. The potential yield of cowpea is up to 1.5 tonnes per hectare, but the usual yield in Ghana and the rest of West Africa is less than 300 kilograms per hectare.
Cowpea is tolerant of shade and therefore can be intercropped with maize, millet, sorghum, and other crops. This makes cowpea an important component of traditional intercropping systems, especially in the dry savannah. In these areas, dried residues of cowpea are a valuable animal feed.
The major constraints to cowpea production in Ghana include insect pests, Striga infestation, diseases, drought, and low soil fertility. Insects and Striga can cause yield losses of 15% to 100%, depending on the level of infestation and the relative susceptibility of the variety.
Cowpea provides rural families with food, animal feed, and cash income. Processed products include: cowpea flour, cowpea cake, cowpea fritters, and cowpea chips. These are sold in village markets.
This drama focuses on managing pests in cowpea. It is based on interviews with farmers and experts.
You might choose to present this drama as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on growing cowpeas or similar topics in your area.
Talk to farmers and experts who are growing cowpeas or are knowledgeable about the crop. You might ask them:
Is growing cowpeas common in your area?
If so, what challenges do farmers face, especially with pests and diseases?
Have some farmers devised solutions to these challenges that they could share on your program?
What do extensionists and other experts say about these challenges?
Do farmers mostly raise cowpeas for home consumption?
Is growing cowpea a profitable business in your area? What are the economic prospects?
Estimated running time: 15 minutes, with intro and outro music
evening. Maybe she just used the opportunity to visit her
mother. You know she didn’t even take a dress.
Now that you have seen the farm, what do you say? Should I continue tilling or I should abandon the farm?
earlier about planting crops at the right time. What exactly do
you mean by that statement?
For early-maturing cowpea, you should usually sow at the beginning of the rains. In this way, you ensure that the sensitive stages of the crop avoid the peak activity of insect pests. Also, sometimes the rains stop earlier than expected. This affects flowering and podding. One way to avoid this is to use early-maturing varieties. If the rains stop early, early-maturing varieties are already mature enough to use the little moisture available and produce a good yield.
One other thing: when you sow the same variety as last season, it is recommended to use old seed reserves rather than sowing seeds from the previous harvest. Seeds that are not properly dried may not germinate well, or may germinate and die later.
Another important weed of cowpea is Striga, also called witchweed. Striga is a parasitic weed that infests the roots of the cowpea plant and feeds directly from the infested plant. It causes stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, delayed flowering, and poor pod and seed formation. The method of controlling Striga which is most compatible with other pest control methods and is environmentally friendly is to use resistant varieties. The variety of cowpea that is available locally and resistant to Striga is called Songotra.
It is important to note that it is no longer recommended to spray regularly according to a calendar, for example every 10-15 days. Calendar spraying can be expensive, unsustainable, and environmentally unfriendly. Therefore, you need to scout for the incidence of pests and decide when to spray based on the severity of infestation.
When there are dry spells at the seedling stage, aphid infestations are likely to be severe and you may have to spray. On the other hand, you can adopt cultural practices like rotating crops, growing different crop varieties in the same field, and planting trap crops which attract pests away from the valuable crop. These all help to manage pests, and might help you to avoid spraying. And don’t forget to use a resistant variety.
actually opened my eyes to the realities of paying close attention to managing pests and soil.
cause of the low yield!
what I’ve learnt from Joe to improve on my yield. My greatest
insight is that I can rotate crops and also grow different varieties of a crop on the same field to control pests. It looks so simple. But I know I have to do it carefully and well. If I do, my target of becoming the best cowpea farmer this year will surely be achieved.
the “can-do spirit,” you can achieve your goals.
Contributed by: Francis X. Mensah
Reviewed by: Francis Kusi, Research Scientist (Entomologist), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Savanna Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), Tamale, Ghana
Mr. Cyril Anane, cowpea farmer, Akatsi District, Volta Region, Ghana, October, 2015.