Commercialization of Cowpie Varieties for Food and Nutritional Security in ASALs of Kenya

Commercialization of Cowpea Varieties Research Activity

Research Centre: KALRO Katumani

Principal Researcher: Ms Rose Kuruma

Research Background:

Cowpea is one of the value chains identified for upscaling under the AGRIFI CS APP. One of the major bottlenecks along the cowpea value chain includes the low adoption of improved varieties. The adoption of new varieties can never be successful until efficient seed-delivery systems are in place. Availability and accessibility of early generation seed (EGS) have been mentioned as one of the major constraints in the seed systems that hinder the commercialization of new varieties (USAID 2016).

Given that cowpea is a key source of protein and rich in micronutrients, it is critical that improved varieties be made available to help mitigate against decline in food security especially in marginal areas. In view of the above, the cowpea breeding program in KALRO released five (5) new cowpea varieties as envisaged in the climate-smart agriculture (CSA) strategy (2017-2026) of developing and releasing improved crop technologies for improved livelihoods.

The varieties have high yield potential as well as market-preferred attributes and tolerance to Alectra vogelii parasitic weed. However, there remained a gap in the integration of these interventions into cowpea farming systems. Hence, there was a need to generate EGS and multiply seeds to enhance the availability and accessibility of newly released improved cowpea varieties for adoption, commercialization, and utilization.

Accessibility to quality seeds and the adoption of improved varieties will contribute to increased agricultural production and productivity. The activities for the commercialization of cowpea include.

Research Objectives:

  1. Survey of factors that hinder adoption of cowpea.
  2. Production of Early Generation Seed for new varieties.
  3.  Acquisition of White Label.
  4. Multiplication and Maintenance of breeder seed.


  • The 5 cowpea varieties (Kat-kunde, Kunde tamu, Kunde soko, Faulu and Tumaini) were certified by KEPHIS paving way for commercialization.