Welcome to EDITS-Cowpea Database


"EDITS-Cowpea" database is an open-access database that contains information relating to characteristics of cowpea (see "What is cowpea?" for details) essential to enhancing the utilization of the wide genetic diversity of the crop, especially focusing on grain quality-related traits, for further breeding and crop utilization activities (see "Why we develop this database?" for details). This database was developed under the "EDITS-Cowpea project" (see details) of JIRCAS.


Wide variation in cowpea grain and plant shape (Photo by S. Muranaka at Kano, Nigeria)


When accessing this database for the first time, please go to "How to Use" page for the step-by-step manual by clicking the “How to use” tab in the upper menu. If you are a frequent user, click the "Database" tab to start your search. All traits you can use for the search, together with the methodologies used for their evaluation, are given in the "Trait List" page.


Kindly note that the contents of EDITS-Cowpea database can be freely used, copied, publicly transmitted, translated or otherwise modified on condition that the user complies with the stipulations in the JIRCAS's website policy (based on CCBY). Please visit "Terms of Use" page for details.




What is cowpea?


Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] is a food and animal feed crop widely grown in the semi-arid tropics covering Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. In Africa, where over 90% of production occurs [1], it also plays an important role as a cash crop for small-scale farmers.


Cowpea production by region (Average 1998-2013, FAOSTAT)


Its importance in the region is attributed to its favorable agronomic characteristics such as tolerance to drought and low soil fertility, nitrogen (N)-fixing ability, and adaptability to different cropping systems. The crop exhibits resilience in agricultural systems under severe and unstable growth environments [2].


Cowpea grown in between pearl millet (Photo by S. Muranaka at Zinder, Niger)


Also, cowpea grains, being rich in protein (17-24%) and micronutrients[3], can be used to supplement staple crops (cereals and tubers). It has a great potential to contribute to providing more nutritionally balanced diets, especially to the poor people of Africa who cannot afford to buy animal proteins.




Why we develop this database?


In Africa, cowpea has been used for various dishes, and is linked with deep-rooted cultural traditions in the region. Also, various grain quality–related traits, such as testa and eye color, testa texture, and seed size, influence the market value of cowpea and the preferred characteristics are often different from region to region [2, 4].


Various cowpea dishes in West Africa (Photo by S. Muranaka)


Considering the recent rapid economic growth in Africa, the “quality” of its agricultural products could emerge as a key issue in the future agricultural development of the continent. Regarding traditionally important crops, such as cowpea, in addition to increasing “quantity” of production, more attention should be placed on “quality” improvement to enhance production and consumption and to promote utilization on the basis of the crop’s role in regional production system and value chain. However, in current cowpea breeding programs in the region, evaluation of grain quality-related traits towards development of suitable varieties to meet consumers’ requirements have not yet been fully carried out.


To promote further innovation in cowpea development, we created this database for better utilization of the wide genetic diversity of this crop in breeding programs and crop utilization.




EDITS-Cowpea project


“EDITS-Cowpea” project is one of JIRCAS's initiatives implemented to generate fundamental scientific information such as “consumers’ preferences,” “farmers’ needs and diverse cropping systems,” “diversity in agronomic and quality traits,” and “effective evaluation tools”. Generated information would provide firm basis for innovation and breeding strategies focusing on “grain quality”, which is currently lacking.


Most of the data included in this database was generated through the activities of "EDITS-Cowpea" project. By making wider use of this database, we expect to stimulate breeding activities to generate new varieties that conform with the preferences of consumers and the needs of the markets in the region, and to further strengthen the crop’s roles in the society.






We would like to express our grateful thanks for the valuable contributions of the following members and collaborators in the development of this database under the EDITS-Cowpea Project.


Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) (https://www.jircas.go.jp/en)

Hsiaoping Chien, Saori Hoshi, Mariko Tamanaha, Garba M. Bala, Olajumoke Olaleye, Bola Obaude, Takanori Hayashi (IT administrator)


International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (http://www.iita.org)

Ousmane Boukar, Tahirou Abdoulaye, Christian Fatokun, Haruki Ishikawa


Tokyo University of Agriculture (TUA), Japan (http://www.nodai.ac.jp)

Takao Myoda, Junko Takeuchi, Yozo Nakazawa


Universidad de la República, Uruguay (http://www.universidad.edu.uy)

Jorge Franco


The University of Tokyo, Japan (http://www.u-tokyo.ac.jp/index_j.html)

Takeshi Sakurai


D-blauer-strom LLC, Japan

Yuki Hasunuma (System construction and design)


Many others who helped in one way or another towards the completion of this undertaking.



JIRCAS EDITS-Cowpea Database Development Team:

Satoru Muranaka, Hiroko Takagi (Project leader), Ryo Matsumoto, Mariko Shono






[1] FAOSTAT 2015.

[2] Coulibaly O, Lowenberg-DeBoer J (2002) The economics of cowpea in West Africa. In: Fatokun CA, Tarawali S, Kormawa PM, Tamo M (eds.) Proceedings, Third World Cowpea Conference, Challenges and opportunities for enhancing sustainable cowpea production. Ibadan: IITA, pp. 351–366.

[3] Muranaka S, Shono M, Myoda T, Takeuchi, J, Franco J, Nakazawa Y, Boukar O, Takagi H (2016) Genetic diversity of physical, nutritional, and functional properties of cowpea grain and relationships among the traits. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization 14(1): 67–76.

[4] Faye M, Jooste A, Lowenberg-DeBoer J, Fulton J (2004) The influence of cowpea characteristics on cowpea prices in Senegal. Agrekon 43: 418–429.