Cow Peas


Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) is a traditional legume that plays an important role in the diet and economy of many small-scale farmers. Cowpeas are one of the most important food legume crops in the semi-arid tropics covering Asia, southern Europe, and Central and South America. It is well adapted to drier regions, where other food legumes do not perform well.  In some parts of the Caribbean and in the southern United States, cowpeas are also known as black-eyed peas.

More than 5.4 million tonnes of the legume rich in protein, calories, vitamins and minerals are produced worldwide, which equals to more than 11 million hectares for harvest. Despite the dried bean being the main export, the leaves and pods of the crop are also highly nutritious and valuable and the crop can also be utilised to feed livestock.

Current Situation

There are no current statistics on the development and trade of cowpeas in the region, which makes it hard to determine the level of farming for this particular crop.

However, the Caribbean continues to be a prime location for the planting of cowpeas which are more drought tolerant than many other crops and also  able to handle rainfall.

However, in Africa where 5.2 million tons of dried cowpeas are produced annually, limitations for the development of cowpeas have been cited such as:

  • Better genotypes are needed that resist insects and can better fill market demand
  • An adequate market information system on global prices is not readily available
  • Communication among researchers and the public is sometimes ineffective

Business Case

Why invest in cassava production?

  • The true potential of cassava may be unlocked through value-adding activities, representing a diverse range of products, including bread and other baked goods, beer production, and the further commercialisation of traditional products (such as cassava bread)
  • Significant potential for supplying planting material to commercial producersWhy invest in cowpeas?
    • They have great potential as a protein-rich food alternative to meat exports, which is currently unrealised
    • The duality of the product for both human and animal consumption ensures different avenues of trade available
    • It can be suitable especially for small-scale farmers requiring little surface area and thriving under varying conditions adapting with different growth forms

Red Kidney Beans

The kidney bean is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). It is named for its visual resemblance in shape and colour to a kidney.

Red kidney beans are a source of fiber-rich complex carbohydrates and a good source of lean protein, providing 17% of the recommended daily allowance. Dry beans in general are legumes grown to the mature stage, allowed to dry, and harvested for the seed within the pods. Most beans are an important staple crop and are also used as animal feed.

Current Situation

In Belize, among the more recent agricultural exports, red kidney beans increased to $7.7 million in 2012 up from $5.3 million in 2011.

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