Solidification of agriculture is vital for barrier the challenges of rural poverty

Solidification of agriculture is vital for barrier the challenges of rural poverty, food insecurity, and unemployment. The World Bank (2007) points out that agriculture can work together with other sectors to produce quicker growth, reduce poverty and sustain the environment. About 80% of Namibia’s population derive their income from agriculture, either directly or indirectly (Horsthemke, 2009)
1.1 BACKGROUND
Cowpea is one of the most ancient crops known to man. Its origin and domestication occurred in Africa near Ethiopia and subsequently was developed mainly in farms of the Africa Savannah. (Duke, cited by UC SAREP). Nowadays it is a legume adapted and grown throughout the world (Summerfield et al., cited by Aveling T., 1999). Cowpea is probably the most commonly grown and consumed legume in the dry savannah regions of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Because of its drought tolerance ability, it is well adapted to the dry savannah, where the bulk of the crop is produced successfully. It is mostly grown by small-scale farmers in their fields in association with cereals, such as millets, sorghum, maize and groundnut. The West African sub-region contributes to about 95% of global cowpea production (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2012). ). Nigeria alone produces over 2.24 million metric tons in about 2.52 million ha followed by Niger with 1.77 million metric tons produced in 5.57 million ha (FAO 2012). Brazil is another country where a high volume of cowpea is produced and consumed. In 2011 the country produced about 822,000 metric tons in 1.6 million ha at an average yield of 525 kg ha-1, which is about 11% higher than the average yield in SSA farmer’s fields.
According to the FAO (http://www.faostat.org), the world cowpea grain production has increased from about 1.3 million metric tons in the 1970s to over 5 million metric tons in the 2000s. However annual consumption of cowpea in Nigeria is over 3.0 million tons, whereas the country produces about 2.6 million tons. Baseline studies on cowpea in western and central Africa, which account for 75% of the total world production, have projected that demand will grow faster at the rate of 2.68% in each year than supply at 2.55% annually over the period of 2007 to 2030 in the sub-region (Abate, 2012). Although cowpea have a drought tolerance ability a mixture of dry spells and erratic rainfalls, with annual variation that cannot be predicted accurately, consistently have negative impacts on the performance of cowpea (Benhil, 2002). In Namibia cowpea is the third most staple crop after pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) and (Sorghum bicolor) (Mcdonagh and hillyer, 2003). It is grown by 95% of small-scale farmers in the north and central region including Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati (Fleissner and Bagnall-Oakkeley, 2001). On the other hand cowpea productivity and market supply in Namibia has decline in recent years due to several challenges such as low yields, unavailability of improved seeds, drought stress and damages pests including Amphis craccivora (Koch), and storage pests including Striga gesnerioides (Willd.) Vatke and Alectra vogelii (Benth) (Matanyaire, 1996). Fleissner and Bagnall-Oakeley (2001) reported that only 5, 000 tons of cowpea were produced annually by the Namibia communal farming households. Furthermore, the reported cowpea yields vary from 120 to 350 kg/ha-1 per household, which is relatively low compared to the yield potential of 1 500 to 3000 kg/ha-1 (Stejskal et al., 2006).
Baseline studies on cowpea in western and central Africa, which account for 75% of the total world production, have projected that demand will grow faster at the rate of 2.68% in each year than supply at 2.55% annually over the period of 2007 to 2030 in the sub-region (Abate, 2012). Despite the availability of high yielding and improved cowpea varieties in Namibia, local productivity of this crop remains low, partly due to crop management which results in poor plant growth and low grain yield (Horn et al., 2015).