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The Richness In Cowpeas

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Commonly known as a crop cultivated by women, the cowpea is a drought-tolerant, heat-adapted annual herbaceous legume, predominately self-pollinating although a slight amount of outcross may occur depending on the cultivar and location.

Cowpeas thrive across the vast stretch of land with low levels of rainfall where the typical sandy soils are poor in nutrients and organic matter. The peas develop within elongated pods of about 18-25cm locally called enkaaga. One could contain 10-15 seeds, depending on its length. Cowpeas serve different purposes according to the regions where they are grown.

In the central region, apart from being one of the totems of the major clans of Buganda kingdom, the seeds are used to prepare soups and sometimes the fresh pods are steamed and eaten as a side vegetable.

In the eastern region, the seeds and leaves are also eaten as vegetable. In the northern region, the cowpea leaves known as boo, are the main delicacy, while the most outstanding cowpea dish across the central and eastern regions is called ggobe.

This plant is an important source of protein. It is a crop of major importance to the nutrition of poor rural households in the drier regions of Uganda, where diets tend to rely heavily on starchy foods such as millet, sorghum, maize and cassava. It is consumed both as a pulse and vegetable, and the local rural women make several soups using the cowpeas.

The cowpea occupies an economically important place  among pulses , especially in the eastern and northern regions where it is an important  source of protein  and household income for the resource-poor subsistence farmers.

Compiled by Slow Foods Uganda

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