Farmer’s participatory evaluation of improved cowpea-maize cropping systems in the Northern Guinea Savanna of Nigeria involving over 1000 farmers was conducted from 2003 to 2005. The system involved growing improved cowpea varieties with maize in a 2 cereal: 4 cowpea row to row (arrangement), with application of inorganic and organic fertilizer to the crops and 2 to 3 insecticide sprays to cowpea. The result indicated that the improved cropping systems using improved varieties of cowpeas were superior to the traditional system. The economic value of grain of the improved system averaged 313, 269 and 308% of the traditional systems in 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively. The improved systems also produced better quality crop residues with increase in the leguminous portion of the residues and therefore improve productivity of the livestock. Farmers’ cooperatives societies were vital in procurement of inputs, accessing bank loans and loan recoveries and in subsequent farmer to farmer diffusion of both improved varieties and cropping systems. Participatory on-farm evaluation of improved cowpea varieties and improved cowpea-sorghum and cowpea-maize intercrop systems has led to rapid farmer to farmer diffusion and adoption of the new technologies.
Key words: Cowpea-cereal systems, farmer participatory trial, improved strip cropping system, Vigna unguiculata, Zea mays.
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