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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.
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:
Why invest in cowpeas?
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.
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.