Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences | JIRCAS

Contribution of legumes to smallholder agriculture and livelihood sustenance in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Malawi, Ghana and Guinea

JIRCAS International Symposium Proceedings
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Leguminous crops, including cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.), groundnut (Arachis hypogaea), soybean (Glysine max L. Merril) and common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), are among the most important and widely grown crops in Sub-Saharan Africa's (SSA) diverse ecological zones. These legumes are multipurpose, hence their production is crucial for the African population especially smallholder households, in terms of food security, nutrition, generation of income, and maintenance of local agroecosystems (i.e., improving soil health and fertility). Characteristically, legumes are known to thrive under low rainfall and poor soil conditions and require minimum capital investment in comparison with other crops. In the face of rapid and unprecedented population growth being experienced in SSA, where the majority is engaged in smallholder agriculture, coupled with the effects of climate variability and change on agriculture, maintaining agronomic practices that help maintain high crop yields and at the same time enhance soil productivity is imperative towards enhancing sustainable development. The promotion of legume production among smallholder farmers in SSA is, therefore, plausible. Against this backdrop, the objective of this study is to further highlight and discuss the role of legume production among smallholder agriculture and livelihood sustenance in SSA by drawing evidence from three African countries namely Ghana, Malawi, and Guinea. Using examples from these countries, elements such as major types of legumes cultivated, area harvested in comparison with other major crops, production quantity, and contribution to global production are examined. The study further assesses some of the country level utilization froms as well as the major challenges impacting on the sustainable promotion and production of legumes. Additionally, we underscore the opportunities associated with upscaling practices associated with legume production among smallholder farmers.

CreatorYaw Agyeman Boafo Linda Chinangwa Boubacar Siddighi Balde

Rulal households


Smallholder agriculture

Climate change

PublisherJapan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences