Cowpea Farming in Kenya:

Could cowpea farming be the best vegetable for farmers in the dry areas of Kenya?”

I found myself asking myself that question one day.

When I moved to Homabay, to try my hand in vegetable production, I found myself in a tough predicament.

I tried growing both Kunde and Sukuma wiki.

What I saw and was  blew me away.

And that’s why I am here today.

To share with you my First hand experience growing Kunde…

so that when you decide to to the same, you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

Ready? Continue reading.

The kunde perfomed very well.

From it, I was able to harvest veges worth KSH 120,000 from the 1 acre I had grown.

But when it came to the Kale, things were not very rosy.

The sukuma wiki struggled so much with the hot weather.

For me to get something from it, I had to apply several rounds of irrigation.

(Irrigation equipment found here check it out)

If I had slacked a little, I am sure that I would have incurred a total loss on the Kale.

My experience growing both Kale and Kunde is what is making me write this post.

I want to share with you all the details so that you succeed when you grow cowpeas.

Let’s get started.

When it comes to growing vegetables, farmers in the drier areas of Ukambani, Nyanza, Rift valley, and Coast have limited options.

They cannot grow the popular sukuma wiki, as the hot dry weather makes it impossible for them to do it.

Neither can they grow cabbage, carrots, broccoli or cauliflower.

They are only left with kunde if they were to grow vegetables at all.

Why Cow Pea Farming In Kenya:

Cowpea farming, also known as black-eyed pea farming, is a popular and important agricultural practice in Kenya.

Cowpeas are a nutritious legume that are widely grown in tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

In Kenya, cowpeas are a staple food for many households and are also an important source of income for smallholder farmers.

“Cowpeas account for roughly 16% of Kenya’s pulse production and 90% of the production is grown in Eastern Kenya, mainly in Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Embu, and Tharaka-Nithi counties. Minor volumes are produced in Coast Province (3.7%), Rift Valley (1.6%), North Eastern (0.8%), Central (0.6%) and Western (0.3%) provinces”


Growing of cowpeas.

The cowpea plant is relatively easy to grow and is well-suited to the warm, dry conditions found in many parts of Kenya.

Cowpeas can be grown in a variety of soil types, but they prefer well-draining soils with a pH of 6.0-6.5.

They are also drought-tolerant and can withstand long periods without rain.

Before planting cowpeas, it’s important to prepare the soil by adding organic matter and a balanced fertilizer.

Cowpeas can be sown directly in the field or grown in seedlings and transplanted later.

It’s also important to choose the right variety of cowpeas for your region. There are many different varieties of cowpeas, each with its own unique characteristics and suitability for different regions.

“Optimum cowpea production is done at a spacing of two feet by one foot between plants. The seeds should be planted at a depth of four to five centimeters deep.”

Japhet Tanui

Mace Foods

Which are the Best Cowpea Varieties to Plant In Kenya?

You may ask.

According to Farmbiz Africa…

There are four Kunde/Cowpea varieties in Kenya.

    • Zebra,
    • Randa,
    • Kitui black eye,
    • M66

To get the best cowpea for planting, you can do so here. You need 15 kg of cowpea per acre

“The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization has released new high yielding disease tolerant cowpea varieties that can produce four tonnes per acre, double the amount of the existing varieties such as zebra and randa.

The varieties Kitui black eye and M66 are tolerant to leaf spot, rust and powdery mildew and are suitable for low, dry areas of North Rift Valley such as Samburu, Baringo, West Pokot, and Trans Nzoia.”

Farmbiz Africa

Harvesting of Cowpeas

Once the cowpeas are planted, it’s important to keep the fields weed-free to ensure that the cowpeas have sufficient space to grow.

Cowpeas are also prone to pests and diseases, such as aphids and cowpea mosaic virus, so it’s important to monitor the crop regularly and take appropriate control measures if necessary.

Cowpeas are typically harvested when the pods are dry and the peas inside are hard.

The peas can then be shelled and stored for later use or sold to markets.

Cowpeas are an important source of protein, iron, and other nutrients, making them a valuable crop both for household consumption and for sale.

Cowpea Profits and Income Potential

In Kenya, cowpea farming is an important source of income for smallholder farmers, many of whom rely on the crop as a mainstay of their livelihoods.

With proper care and management, cowpea farming can be a lucrative and sustainable enterprise that helps to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and their families.

However, cowpea farming in Kenya also faces challenges, such as low productivity and limited access to markets.

To address these challenges, it’s important for smallholder farmers to have access to the right tools and resources, such as improved seed varieties, fertilizers, and pest control measures.

It’s also important for farmers to have access to market information and to be able to connect with buyers to get the best prices for their crops.

Overall, cowpea farming in Kenya is a vital part of the agricultural sector and plays a crucial role in the food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

By investing in the right tools and resources, smallholder farmers can improve their productivity and profitability, and contribute to the overall development and prosperity of the country.