Biotech Updates

Senegal to Host 5th World Cowpea Conference

July 23, 2010

The Fifth World Cowpea Research Conference, the gathering of scientists to assess threats to the survival and production of cowpea will be held in Saly, Senegal on 27 September to 1 October 2010. Cowpea or black-eyed peas are a global commodity grown in nearly every region in the world with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for about 70% of total world production. "Black-eyed peas have been largely neglected despite their multiple benefits and the fact that developing new, high-yield varieties could boost farm incomes by as much as 50 percent while improving household nutrition," said Peter Hartmann, director general of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).

The topics to be discussed include among others:

  • "Designer" peas: State-of-the-art genetic research to develop "designer," insect-resistant black-eyed peas.
  • Space food: NASA's efforts to use cowpea as food for astronauts because of its exceptional nutritional value and potential for cultivation in space station greenhouses.
  • Cowpea genemap: Update work to produce a new genetic map for cowpea which has used methods developed through the Human Genome Project to accelerate efforts to breed improved varieties.
  • Biological controls for cowpea pests: Utilizing genomics tools to develop and deploy biocontrol agents to manage insect pest populations.
  • Postharvest - Reducing insect damage to cowpea in storage is a cost-effective way to increase the food supply. Millions of African farmers are using hermetic storage without insecticides to safely store cowpea.

IITA will be co-hosting the event with the Government of Senegal, the Dry Grain Pulses Collaborative Research Support Program, and Purdue University.

To get involved in the conference, check the website at Details of ths article can be viewed at