Production guidelines for cowpeas - Classification

Different types of cowpea seed

Scientific nameVigna unguiculata

Common names: Arikaans: akkerboon, swartbekboon, boontjie, koertjie, dopboontjie;  English: cowpea, bachapin bean, black-eye bean or pea, catjang, china pea, cowgram, southern pea; Sepedi: dinawa (plural), monawa, nawa; Shangaan: dinaba, munaoa, tinyawa; Setswana: dinawa, nawa-ea-setswana; Tshivenda: munawa (plant), nawa (fruit); isiZulu: imbumba, indumba, isihlumaya

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Cowpea disease

​Cowpea, important for food and feed

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Cowpea, popularly known as blackeye pea, is an important grain legume in South Africa and many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

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The attributes of Cowpea


The trading of seeds and processed foods from cowpea provides both urban and rural opportunities for earning regular income. the aboveground plant parts of cowpea, except the pods, are utilized for animal fodder.

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Cowpea field

​Cultivating cowpeas - A compact guide

Cowpeas is indigenous to Africa. It is also known as dinawe (Ndebele), dinaba (Shangaan), imbumba (Zulu), monawa or nawa (Pedi) and dinawa (Tswana).
Cowpeas is a protein-rich bean crop that leaves nitrogen in the soil and therefore has a beneficial effect on the follow-up crop.

Cowpeas can be planted as an intercrop or in rotation and can tolerate drought.

 Uses for cowpeas:

  • The leaves and growth points can be picked and used as a vegetable dish.

  • The leaves can be dried and used as a meat substitute. About one kilogram cowpeas is a full meal.

  • The green seeds are sometimes roasted like peanuts and these are then used as a substitute for coffee.

  • Ground dried seeds mixed with onions and spices can be fried in oil.

  • The seeds can also be cooked.

  • It can be used as green manure.

  • It can be planted for hay production.

  • Silage can be made by mixing the green leaves with sorghum or maize.

  • Cowpeas can be planted for hay production and the hay can be sold.

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For more information contact Mary James - Tel: + 27 (0)18 299 6253 - Fax: + 27 (0)18 294 7146


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