Ghana: Cowpea


Cowpea Summary Fact Sheet

Average National Output (2015 - 2020)
  • 228,000 MT

SRID, 2020

Total Area under Cultivation (Ha)
  • 157,000 Ha (2018)
  • 169,000 Ha (2019)
  • 169,000 Ha (2020)

    SRID, 2020

Value of Cowpea
  • Second most important legume in Ghana
Cropping Cycle
  • One Cropping Cycle (Guinea Savannah)
  • One Cropping Cycle (Forest-Savannah Transition Zone)
  • Two Cropping Cycles (Coastal Savannah)
Planting Distance
  • Erect/Semi-erect Variety:  (60 cm x 20 cm and 50 cm x 20 cm - Recommended)
  • Prostate Variety:  (80 cm x 20 – 40 cm)
Density (Plant Population per Ha)
  • 83,333 Plants (60 cm x 20 cm)
  • 100,000 Plants (50 cm x 20 cm)
  • 62,500 Plants (80 cm x 20 cm)
  • 41,666 Plants (80 cm x 30 cm)
  • 31,250 Plants (80 cm x 40 cm)
Type(s) of Fertilizer Used for Production
  • Inorganic: (NPK 12-30-17 + 0.4 Zn and NPK 15:15:15)
  • Organic: (Cow dung, Poultry manure and Compost)
Fertilizer Application Rate per Ha

         Inorganic Fertilizer 

  • 5 bags per ha of NPK (NPK 12-30-17 + 0.4 Zn), NPK 15:15:15
  • Triple Super Phosphate (TSP)

    Organic Fertilizer  

  • Cow dung – 3 tons/ha.
  • Poultry manure – 4 tons per ha.
  • Compost – 5 tons per ha.
Annual National Production (MT)
  • 237,000 MT (2018)
  • 254,000 MT (2019)
  • 263,000 MT (2020)


Global Area Cultivated
  • 11 Million Hectares (FAO)
Varieties of Cowpea
  • 26  Varieties Exist
Major Growing Regions in Ghana
  • Northern 
  • Upper West
  • Upper East
  • Brong Ahafo 
  • Volta
Nutritional Value
  • 26% Protein
Potential Yield per Ha
  • 2.50MT per Ha (2,500Kg/Ha)
  • 3.0 MT/Ha (3,000 Kg/Ha) with right production protocol
Average Productivity (2020)
  • 1.52 Mt/ha (2020)


 Market & Trade
Current Policy Initiatives
  • Planting for Food and Jobs 
 Budget Benchmarks
Cost of Production per Ha
  • GHȼ 2,698.50
Estimated Revenue per Ha per season
  • GHȼ 6,180.00 @ Yield: 2,000 Kg/Ha and Price: GHȼ 412.00 per 100 Kg)
Average Gross Margins per Ha per Season
  • GHȼ 3,481.50 (Profit Margins of about 56%)
Market Risks
  • Price Fluctuations
  • Limited Market Access
Production Risks
  • Climate change and its impact along the value chain
  • Rising cost of production largely due to insect pest and disease management
  • Limited access to improved seeds


General Overview of Cowpea Production

Cowpea is a grain legume believed to have originated from Africa, with large economic and social importance in the developing world. It is a food of major importance for millions, especially in less developed countries of the tropics, often being the major source of protein and carbohydrate.

According to the FAO, approximately 8.9 million MT of cowpea is produced in 2020 with a minimum of 15 million hectares cultivated globally, at an average productivity of 0.53t/ha compared to the potential yield of 6.0t/ha. The low crop productivity in growing regions is due to the low technological level and use of traditional genotypes.

Recent studies on the evaluation of improved genotypes and their productive performance under different environmental conditions have increased the yield gains to 3mt/ha. In addition to the positioning of genotypes suitable to crop environments, agronomic adjustments in production systems such as determination of planting time/period, spacing and plant density can promote large productivity increases.

Cowpea is the second most important legume in Ghana after groundnut, with nutritional, socio-economic (income generation) and agricultural (good soil fertility enhancement ability) importance. The dry grain with about 26% protein serves as a rich source of protein for human consumption. Livestock also benefits from the residue left over after the grain is harvested. Increasing population growth, industrial processing and government programmes are emerging markets for cowpea requiring production intensification within the framework of sustainable agriculture.

Ghana’s agricultural policies give attention to the development of five food security commodities and their value chains to increase market opportunities. Cowpea is one of the priority crops as defined in FASDEP II and the current national development strategy, Investing for Food and Jobs (IFJ) together with maize, rice, yam and cassava. A key cowpea inclusive policy initiative has presently been rolled out and being implemented under the Ministry’s flagship programme “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) Campaign. PFJ is anchored on five (5) strategic pillars. They include the provision of improved seeds, improved access and supply of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing and e-Agriculture. The primary objective of the Campaign is to ensure immediate and adequate availability of food in the country, enhance crop productivity, increase export, create jobs and attract investment into agriculture. Cowpea is one of the crops supported under PFJ. 

Since 2015, on average, the country produces 228,000 MT of cowpea annually on about 160,000 ha (SRID, 2020) of arable land, making it the fifth-highest cowpea producer on the African continent. Production in Ghana has increased at a rate of 2.67% between 2016 and 2018.

Cowpea Production and Area Cultivated, 2011–2020


Figure 1: Trend of Production,Area and Yield of Cowpea



Farmer's yields average of 1.51 MT per hectare compared to the potential yield of 2.5 MT per hectare recorded at well-managed farms. Factors attributed to low productivity include limited access to high yielding varieties and limited access to appropriate production technologies. Increased productivity and economic viability of cowpea is possible across growing areas by observing Good Agricultural Practices which includes the adoption of improved varieties, improvements in production systems and efficient use of inputs.

In Ghana, research efforts have been intensified by cowpea breeders from research institutes and universities to develop varieties for improved crop productivity. From 1985 to 2019, twenty-six improved cowpea varieties have been released and registered for commercialization in Ghana and within the sub-region

The bulk of cowpea production occurs in northern Ghana, although it can be grown across all the agroecological zones of the country. Over the past few years, five (5) regions have been identified as, consistently, having a comparative and competitive advantage in the production of cowpea based on a three-year average. This is presented in the figure 2.

Figure 2: Top Cowpea Producing Regions in Ghana



Cowpea Value Chain

Cowpea Value Chain Linkages

Input Provision

The cowpea value chain starts with the acquisition of inputs. These include seeds, agrochemicals, farm equipment and tractor services. Farmers growing cowpeas usually use seeds saved from their previous harvests or purchase new seeds from certified seed outlets.

Most of the farm-saved seeds are full of admixtures which affect productivity and market after harvest. Chemical fertilizers are available in Ghana and are widely used in cultivation, but cowpea farmers use almost no fertilizers at all due to their relative cost and the natural nitrogen-fixing capabilities of leguminous plants. However, in recent times under the planting for food and jobs programme, farmers are given a 50% subsidy on fertilizers and seeds and this has improved the situation.


Cowpea Production

Cowpea cultivation is an annual activity for many smallholder producers in the country. This is mainly because it is an important staple food in the diet of many farming households and can fix nitrogen in the soil. It is cultivated widely by smallholder farmers with an area of 237,000 MT under cultivation.   

The vast majority of cowpea is produced by smallholder farmers under rain-fed conditions leading to annual variations. Smallholder farmers account for significant production of 70% in Ghana and are mainly in the Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Brong Ahafo and Volta regions.

Under traditional production methods and rain-fed conditions, yields are below their attainable levels. According to MoFA-SRID (2018), Ghana has about 157,000 hectares of land under cowpea cultivation. Depending on the agro-ecology, farmers will produce 1 or 2 cowpea crops per year.    



The aggregators buy the cowpea in sacks, re-bag and sell them to various consumers including schools, food vendors, and hospitality industry. Some of the aggregators in the cowpea markets pre-finance the smallholder farmers in the form of agricultural inputs, seed, and cash. After harvesting, the smallholder farmers pay back the money in kind (with cowpea). There are also ‘market queens’ who compete with the aggregators and buy from the smallholder farmers. They resell some of the produce in the cowpea markets.


Marketing and Distribution

Cowpeas with white testa and black eyes command a clear premium across markets in Ghana. Other desirable consumer preferences/characteristics include shorter cooking duration and starchiness.  

Traditionally, the marketing channel has been from farmers to middlemen, to wholesalers to retailers and to consumers. The dominant transaction practices are the personalized spot market and hybrids of informal contracts between actors.

In Ghana, the larger traders in assembly markets aggregate produce either from farmers or smaller traders/aggregators and wholesale to processors or retailers (traders who sell in small quantities to consumers). Middlemen and traders play a major role in market access providing the main link between producers, processors and buyers. As a result, the great majority of smallholders especially the ones located in remote rural areas have few marketing channels



Cowpea is the second most important legume in Ghana after groundnut, with nutritional, socio-economic (income generation) importance. The dry grain with about 26% protein serves as a rich source of protein for human consumption. Livestock also benefits from the residue left over after the grain is harvested. Increasing population growth, industrial processing and government programmes are emerging markets for cowpea requiring production intensification within the framework of sustainable agriculture

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture records that the per capita consumption by Ghanaians is an average of 6.8 kg per year. The food balance sheet for 2019/2020 production season also reveals that the country is currently self-sufficient in cowpea production (table 1). A total of 257,000 Mt of the commodity is produced annually. Out of this figure, about 241,550 Mt (representing 86%) is consumed as food by humans. 14% (39,490 Mt) of the production goes into Seed, Feed and Wastage.  

Cowpeas serves as a major source of total protein, fat and certain essential vitamins and minerals and are used extensively in many dishes both on the farms and in the larger towns and cities.

Food Balance Sheet (2020) Production Season (Cowpea)

Table 1: Food Balance Sheet (2020)

Total Production257,000 Mt
Human Consumption (food)241,550 Mt
Total Imports0 Mt
Exports4 Mt
Seed, Feed and Wastage39,490 Mt


Key Agronomic Practices

Key Agronomic Practices and their Importance 

Good Agricultural/Husbandry PracticeBrief Description and Importance

Planting Material


The basic planting material used for cultivation is a seed. There are several varieties that have been developed through research. Varieties are selected based on their distinctive characteristics:  Hewale, Zaayura, Asomdwee, Kirkhouse Benga 1, Wang Kae, Aduapa, UCC Early, Kum-Zoya. Select varieties that would meet the demand or consumers preference. Eg. high yielding, tolerant/resistance to important cowpea diseases in Ghana. 

Seed Selection


Always purchase seed from certified seed outlets where seed viability and variety purity can be guaranteed. Where certified seed is not available, you may use seed from your own farm for planting. In that case, it is important that you demarcate an area in the middle of your field, just before or soon after flowering. Harvest healthy plants from the area to provide seed for planting the following year’s crop.  Pull out diseased and insect pest infected plants in the demarcated area. All off-type plants (observed to be different from the variety purchased) should also be pulled out and thrown away. At maturity, harvest promptly, dry and thresh. After threshing, further dry seed to 8 - 10% moisture content, clean seed, and store in a cool dry place. 

Choose Suitable Soils



Cowpea is well adapted to a wide range of soil conditions. 

Choose a levelled or a gentle sloppy land, wherever you decide to cultivate cowpea.  Avoid areas with steep slopes, sandy and clayey soils. Choose a deep and well-drained loamy soil for maximum productivity. Well-drained soils provide ideal conditions for the proper growth and development of the crop.

Sandy soils do not retain water after rain or irrigation and expose plants to drought, which can cause total crop failure depending on the duration of the drought and stage of growth of plant.

Agro Climate ConditionsCowpea generally does well in most parts of Guinea, Sudan, Coastal Savannah, Forest, and Transition agro-ecological zones of Ghana.  It is well adapted to a wide range of climatic conditions. For maximum yields and production of a good quality crop, cultivate cowpea in ecology with an annual rainfall of not less than 700mm and well distributed throughout the growing period.
Land Preparation

Good land preparation is critical for good seed germination and establishment. Prepare land such that seedbed or soil is loose and hence well-aerated, has good moisture-holding capacity and free of weeds.

The land can be manually prepared using conventional hand tools (hoes or cutlasses). A tractor can also be used to plough and harrow. In most settings where cowpea is grown on old plots, field preparations start immediately with cultivation/tilling of the land. However, production on virgin land should start with clearance of bushes using axes and machetes before proceeding to till the land. Trees and shrubs in the site are cut down manually, or grasses slashed and fallen trees removed from the field. Ridging can be carried out after harrowing if ridge planting is required. At least five to seven days should be allowed between each operation to allow for decay of bushes/ grass and decomposition by micro-organisms, thus enhancing soil fertility for good seed germination and growth. 


Planting is the most critical phase in the establishment of a new crop on a prepared field.

Sowing or planting time depends on the season as well as the agro-ecology. Planting periods are based on the establishment of rains (weather information) and the maturity period of the variety. Planting is done using a dibbler, cutlass or planter.    2-3 seeds are planted/hole and later thinned to 2 plants/hill 2 Weeks after planting. 

Plant cowpea such that maturity coincides with the dry period.  Cowpea harvested during the dry period gives good quality grain or seed. Early maturing cowpeas can be used for late planting in the Guinea Savanna zone.

Plant in rows at the recommended spacing

  • Plant cowpeas in rows on the flat or on ridges.
  • Plant in rows at a recommended spacing to achieve optimum plant population.
  • Plant in rows to make the control of weeds, pests, fertilizer application and harvesting easier.
  • Plant at the proper depth

Using inter and intra row spacing of 50 cm x 20 cm recommended, the plant population per hectare will be 100,000. 

Pest and Disease Management

Pests and diseases can cause considerable damage to cowpea and therefore reduce crop productivity. The pests and diseases of cowpea must be effectively managed through an integrated approach to optimize crop yield. Integrated Pest & Disease Management involves the utilization of a variety of methods and techniques including cultural, biological, and chemical

The major pests of cowpea include thrips and pod borers. Spray recommended insecticides at the recommended rate to manage them. The main diseases of cowpea are mosaic viruses (Cowpea Yellow Mosaic Virus) and leaf spots. Management measures include the use of tolerant varieties, treat seeds using recommended dressers and practice crop rotation.

Soil Fertility Management


Depending on the fertility status of the soil, cowpea may not require fertilizer. On fertile soils (e.g. newly cultivated fields), there may be no need to apply fertilizer. Only apply fertilizer on poor soils or continuously cropped soils without soil fertility amendment.

Higher yields will be obtained if some amount of fertilizer especially phosphorous and potassium are applied before planting or shortly after planting. Cowpeas have the ability to fix nitrogen and may not need high quantities of nitrogen. 

The recommended rate of fertilizer depends on the agro-ecology, soil type, cropping history of the field and soil nutrient test.

  • For Forest-Savannah Transition, Guinea Savannah, apply 5 bags of compound fertilizer blend (NPK 12-30-17 + 0.4 Zn) per ha
  • For Coastal Savannah, Forest and Transition agroecological zones, apply 2.5 bags of compound fertilizer (NPK 15:15:15) per ha

Weed Management


Weed control in cowpea is very important.   Weeds can cause considerable yield losses because they compete with cowpea for nutrients, water and sunlight and may harbour pests and diseases. Weeds are a serious problem in cowpea production. If not periodically removed they may act as hosts for pests. Thus, they will reduce both yield and quality of the grain. In addition, fodder yield may also be reduced since cowpea is not a strong competitor for resources, particularly at the establishment stage. In other words, cowpea should be kept free of weeds after establishment. When fields are left unweeded, cowpea can be completely smothered by weeds resulting in total yield loss. Weeds compete with the crop, during growth, for light, water, and nutrients. Weeds can cause greater yield reduction than arthropods, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and diseases and may lower the quality of the produce. Control weeds early, especially during the first six weeks after planting.

Good land preparation helps in controlling weeds and gives cowpea a starting growth advantage over weeds. 

Recommended herbicides can also be employed in checking weeds. An alternative to manual weed control is to practice no-tillage with or without herbicides.

Harvest Management


Cowpeas vary in growth habit from erect or semi-erect types.  At maturity, leaves will dry down but may not drop off completely. 

Cowpea should be harvested at physiological maturity determined by maturity period of variety and pod colour changes. Harvesting should coincide with bright sunshine and dry weather. Avoid late harvesting to reduce bruchid infestation, pod shattering and moulds

Cowpea harvesting can be carried out manually (hand harvesting) or by using a combine harvester in the case of large-scale production. The upright cultivars are easy to harvest by machine. To avoid field weathering or shattering, dry pods should not be left in the field longer than 2 weeks after full pod maturity. 

Harvest of matured pods for dry seeds are usually done by removing matured pods individually as they ripen and are spread on the ground in the homestead to dry. In indeterminate maturing varieties, harvesting of matured pods is complicated by prolonged and uneven ripening; for some landraces harvesting may require up to seven rounds with three to four days intervals. The duration of the crop from sowing to harvesting depends largely on the growth habit, the rainfall and local husbandry practice but is seldom not more than five or six months.

Post-Harvest practices 



The pods of cowpea can be manually threshed by beating with a stick when harvested pods spread in the sun are well-dried. The seeds are breakable as such the threshing should be light, just to break the pods. The pods can also be broken by fingers to remove the seeds if the quantity is little.


Seed quality is a determinant of good crop establishment, growth, and development. Thus, care at all levels of operations; from harvesting, threshing and post-harvest handling to keep the seeds free of infection by pests and diseases is necessary. Sorting is crucial to remove defective and broken grains, stones, waste, and infected seeds from healthy ones. It is in the interest of the seed dealers to get clean seed from seed farmers so that they get better pay. Some buyers will want the seed cleaned and bagged, while others will take the grain in bulk form and clean it themselves. 


The highly nutritious cowpea seed is grown for fresh, processed, and dried uses. Thus, healthy leaf and high-quality seed is required for consumption and marketing. Grading can be done by removing infested, diseased and broken seeds and leaves. Shriveled seeds are also eliminated.


The seeds should be packaged in bags and placed into an electrical dryer or spread on a slab under the sun to ensure that the moisture content of the seed is reduced to the desired level of 12 % or less. Thus: cowpeas should be packed in suitable packages which must be clean, sound, and free from insect, fungal infestation and the packing material shall be of good grade and quality. Cowpeas can be packed in containers which will safeguard the hygienic, nutritional, technological, and organoleptic qualities of the products. The containers, including packaging material, should be made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended use. The packaging material should not transfer any toxic substance or undesirable odour or flavour to the product. Each package shall contain cowpeas of the same type and of the same grade designation. If cowpeas are presented in bags, the bags shall also be free of pests and contaminants. Each package shall be securely closed and sealed. For long period storage of cowpea, the Purdue Improved Crops Storage (PICS) bags should be introduced. The bag reduces loss of cowpea grain to insect infestation.


 Insect pests can be devastating to cowpea during storage. There are storage insects that cause damage to the seed. It is therefore important to store seed in a protected place. A serious insect pest during storage is the cowpea weevil (Callosobruchus maculatus). The storage life of cowpea depends on its moisture content before storage. The lower the moisture content, the better the quality of seeds in storage. Store dried grains in Perdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags or under cold storage where available. 

For seed, many farmers prefer storing the seed grain within the dry pod. The dried pods are tied in small bundles and hung over the cooking spot in the house/ kitchen so that whenever food is being cooked the smoke from the fire would drive away invading insects. In some places, dried chilies are ground into a powder and sprinkled in a bag in which pods are kept. The hot chilies are reported by farmers to scare and repel away invading storage pests. Dried cowpea leaves as a vegetable can also be stored in waterproof containers to be eaten in the dry season when green vegetables are scarce.

In developed countries, one alternative is the use of cold storage. An exposure to -18oC during 6 to 24 hours can reduce pest numbers by more than 99 %. The grain can be stored short term at around 12% moisture or less, with 8 to 9% recommended for long-term storage. 

In general, the following could be done to increase the shelf life of the commodity:

  • Treat with dried cowpea with recommended insecticide e.g. Actellic Super, to protect the grain
  • Store in closed cribs or shelled and stored/packaged in jute or polypropylene sacks/ any recommended material
  • Store in a cool environment such as cold rooms or cool ambient free from water, rodents, birds, etc.
  • Arrange bagged grains on wooden pallets


Key Risks Along the Value Chain and Mitigation Measures

Value Chain ActionsKey Risks and ChallengesMitigation Measures

Input Supply


Poor seed quality
  • Use certified seeds of improved varieties purchased from certified sources
  • Community seed multiplication
  • Training on GAPs
FinanceHigh-interest rates
  • Provision of incentives
  • Interest subsidies
ProductionIncidence of drought or dry spells
  • Use tolerant (climate sensitive) varieties
  • Increased use of irrigation technologies
  • Conservation agriculture
Increased pest and disease incidence
  • Select and use tolerant varieties
  • Altering planting dates
  • Use of IPM technologies
Low yields/crop productivity
  • Use improved varieties
  • Adhere to GAPs
Post-harvest handlingHigh post-harvest climate-sensitive losses
  • Practice good harvesting and handling management
  • Use triple bag technology (PICS bag)
  • Improved (enclosed) transport means
MarketingLow salesStrengthen market linkages between producers and buyers
ProcessingTraditional processing methods for threshingUse improved processing technology (mechanical threshers)
ConsumptionLimited varieties meeting diverse consumer preferenceDevelop demand-driven cowpea varieties


Pests & Diseases, Symptoms and Control Measures

Major Pest of Cowpea and their Management

PestSymptomsManagement/Control Measures

Bean Aphid (Aphis fabae)

These aphids are black sucking insects, which cluster around growing points, stems, leaves and flowers. If in large numbers, they can prevent normal growth. Yellowing and distortion of the leaves is common due to the attack of these aphids. On cowpea aphids normally feed on the undersurface of young leaves, on young stem tissue and on pods of mature plants. When present in large numbers, they cause direct feeding damage

- Stunted growth in plants

- Premature defoliation and death of seedlings

- Yellowing and distortion of leaves

- Spray with malathion, menazon or endosulfan

Bruchids (Callosobruchus)

This is the main storage pest of cowpea. There are two major species: Callosobruchus masculatus and Callosobruchus chinensis. Infestation commonly begins in the field, where eggs are laid on maturing pods. As the pods dry, the pest's ability to infest them decreases. Thus, dry seeds stored in their pods are quite resistant to attack, whereas the threshed seeds are susceptible to attack throughout storage. Infestation may start in the pods before harvest and carry over into storage where substantial losses may occur. 

- Presence of eggs glued to the surface of the pulses


- Mix cowpea seeds with ash


The mode of germination of cowpea is epigeal, that is, the cotyledons are carried above the ground. They assume photosynthetic function which supports growth, until the first true leaves are photo-synthetically competent. At this stage, birds cut these cotyledons and eat them thus destroying the germinated seedling at this early stage.


Pod Sucking Bug (Anoplocnemis curvipes)

The nymphs and adults of several different species of pod-sucking bugs suck on the sap of the young pods causing them to shrivel and dry prematurely. The insects can often be found on the pods or under the leaves of cowpeas and other host plants. Pod-sucking bugs feed on a wide range of legumes and are very mobile, which makes them challenging to control

- Shriveling and prematurely dried out of pods

- Deformity in young pods

- Reduction in grain yields

- Plant resistant cultivars

- Practice early planting

- Intercropping with sorghum and maize

- Clean up haulms to prevent the insects from over seasoning in the crop residues

- Apply phosphorus at 30 kg P/ha significantly to decrease the pod-sucking bug population and significantly increase yields

Root Knot Nematodes

Causal agents of Root Knot Nematodes are, Meloidogyne incognita, M. lavanica and M. Arenaria.  All three species of nematode are widespread through­ out the tropics. M. incognita can cause severe crop loss.

- Premature death in plants

- Galls are seen on root system, causing damage


- Practice crop rotation

Major Diseases of Cowpea and their Management

DiseasesSymptoms- Management/ Control

Zonate leaf spots

Septoria leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot and brown blotch are some of the common cowpea leaf spots. 

- Appearance of small non-diagnostic lesions on the lower leaves.

- Lesions elongate, run together, and whole leaves may be blighted

- Grow resistant varieties of cowpea

- Treat seeds using recommender dressers

- Practice crop rotation

- Apply benomyl spray

Cowpea Mosaic Virus

- Discolourations in leaves of the plant

- Shriveling of leaves

- Use improved cowpea varieties with resistance to viral infection


Market Information

Current cowpea market demand in Ghana is estimated to be about 241,550 MT. Pricing of cowpea is largely dictated by supply and demand. Farmers may price products based on production cost plus a mark-up. However, the price received is based on bargaining with traders at the point of sale. New production and marketing arrangements involving nucleus farmers and aggregators give room for price negotiation between producers and buyers so that prices are fixed before harvest.  

These arrangements involve contracts which allow renegotiation when the negotiated price falls below price prevailing in the open market. The essence of renegotiation is to reduce side-selling by farmers. Largely, the traditional agricultural market in Ghana is not well developed and therefore encourages sharp variations in consumer prices between seasons and from one location to another, at the discretion of the “market queens” or aggregators. Also, it is characterized by varying scales of measurement and a lack of product standardization. This challenge is largely attributed to a general lack of enforcement of the use of weights and measures in trading agricultural commodities.

The national availability of food for human consumption is a function of the balance between food produced domestically, import and export of food, reduction of food waste and post-harvest loss.

Cowpea Food Balance Sheet (2019/2020) Production Season

Total Production 257,000 Mt
Domestic Utilization (Food)241,550 Mt
Seed, Feed and Wastage39,490 Mt
Total Supplies 284,490 Mt


Price Trends

The major markets for trade and commerce of cowpea include Accra, Takoradi, Techiman, Kumasi, Dambai, Tamale and Bawku. Price trends over the past five years have been increasing. This largely has been attributed to the increasing demand for the commodity in the major markets across the country. Figure 10 below shows the average wholesale prices compiled from May 2015-2019.

National Average Wholesale Prices for Cowpea

SRID, MOFA (2019)


Enterprise Budget for Cowpea

Crop Budget to produce One Hectare Cowpea - Average yield of 2 Mt per hectare (2019)

ActivityCost per Hectare (GH¢) Rain-Fed 
Qty. / Freq.Unit cost (GHȼ)Total cost (GHȼ) 
Land PreparationLand clearing1200         200.00  
Ploughing1275         275.00  
Harrowing1200         200.00  
Crop EstablishmentCertified seed810           80.00  
Planting/Sowing1225         225.00  
Weed ManagementHerbicide 1150         150.00  
Application cost150           50.00  
Fertilizer ManagementSSP/TSP/NPK5120         600.00  
Application cost150           50.00  
 Insecticide175           75.00  
 Application cost150           50.00  
Harvest 1250         250.00  
Threshing1200         200.00  
Bagging 151           15.00  
Storage (PICS bags)1510         150.00  
Production Cost      2,570.00  
5% Contingency      128.50  
Total Production Cost (B)     2,698.50  
Total Revenue (A)15 bags/haGHȼ 412/ 100kg      6,180.00  
Net revenue (A-B)   3,481.50  


Key Policies and Programmes


Ghana’s agricultural policies give attention to the development of five food security commodities and their value chains to increase market opportunities. Cowpea is one of the priority crops as defined in FASDEP II and the current national agricultural sector investment plan, Investing for Food and Jobs (IFJ) together with maize, rice, yam and cassava. A key cowpea inclusive policy initiative presently being rolled out is implemented under the Ministry’s flagship programme “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ) Campaign. PFJ is anchored on five (5) strategic pillars. They include the provision of improved seeds, improved access and supply of fertilizers, provision of dedicated extension services, marketing, and e-Agriculture. The primary objective of the Campaign is to ensure immediate and adequate availability of food in the country, enhance crop productivity, increase export, create jobs and attract investment into agriculture.   


The following projects/programmes were formulated and implemented or are being implemented to support the production of food crops including cowpea in the country

Projects/Programmes and their Activities or Expected Outputs

Ghana Grains Development Project1979–1997Standardizing pricing policy to promote competitiveness in the grain industry of Ghana.
Food Crops Development Project1998–2009To enable beneficiaries, raise their household incomes and improve overall nutritional status and standard of living through increased production, processing, and marketing of farm produce.
National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO)2010 - PresentTo insulate farmers from the glut on the market that usually resulted from improved production levels
Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) campaign2017 - PresentTo increase agriculture productivity and catalyze a structural transformation in the economy through increased farm incomes and job creation. The campaign also seeks to motivate farmers to adopt certified seeds and fertilizers through a private sector-led marketing framework to raise the incentives and complimentary service provisions on the usage of inputs, good agronomic practices, and marketing of outputs over an e-agriculture platform
Ghana Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (GASIP)2015-2021Develop the cowpea value chain through capacity building of various actors


Cowpea Growing Seasons and Cropping Cycle


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