Gbaguidi A. A., Dansi A., Loko L. Y., Dansi M. and A. Sanni
Cowpea is one of the major food crops contributing to food security and poverty alleviation in Benin. In order to identify performing varieties that could meet producers’ and consumers’ needs, and to collect ethnobotanical data that will help preserving varietal diversity, twenty eight (28) villages randomly selected in southern Benin were surveyed using participatory research appraisal. The survey revealed the existence of a non-negligible diversity of cowpea varieties in the study zone. Subject to synonymy, 92 farmer-named varieties were identified and the Shannon–Weaver diversity index (H) was estimated at 3.31. The number of varieties recorded varied from 7 to 16 per village (9 on average) and from 1 to 6 per household (3 on average). The distribution and extent analysis revealed that many varieties were being disappeared leading to a production mainly concentrated on a small number (4 on average per village) of varieties cultivated by many households and on large areas. The average rate of diversity loss was 28%. A participatory agronomic and culinary evaluation of the varieties carried out with 12 parameters yielded 3 to 76 varieties per evaluation traits. The less provided evaluation traits were tolerance to field insects, diseases, weeds and storage insects with only 3, 5, 6 and 10 varieties respectively. Based on the agronomic and culinary variables used, the 92 varieties recorded were grouped into 54 different units consisted of 1 to 11 varieties. Farmers’ preference criteria were identified and prioritized for use by eventual breeding and variety exchange programmes. Identified varieties were collected and their characterization was recommended.
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