Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] is an important grain legume which is widely grown in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) for food and feed. Its grain is composed of high levels of protein, energy and micro- and macro-nutrients. Young and succulent leaves of cowpea are consumed as cooked vegetables in some parts of SSA. In SSA, including Namibia, cowpea productivity is considerably low due to a wide array of abiotic and biotics stresses and socio-economic constrains. Therefore, breeding improved varieties incorporating farmerspreferred traits remains an overriding consideration to boost the productivity of cowpea in the region. This review summarizes challenges and constraints to cowpea production, breeding methods and progress, genetic variation and analysis of cowpea. Furthermore, information on participatory varietal selection (PVS) is presented to highlight farmers’ desire and preference in the selection of cowpea varieties for large-scale production and ultimate adoption. The literature presented herein may serve as baseline information for cowpea breeders, agronomists or producers in Namibia or similar agro-ecologies in SSA.
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RUFORUM Working document series