The genus Capsicum (sweet and hot pepper) harbors an incredible intra and inter-specific diversity in fruit type, color, shape, taste, and biochemical content. Its potential uses and benefits to mankind cover many areas such as food and nutrition, medicine, cosmetic, plant based insecticides (PBI), and income. The cash income potential combined with the fact that peppers are easy to grow, harvest, and process makes them suitable for use in poverty reduction and food security improvement programs. Efforts were made in West Africa to improve peppers in terms of germplasm collection and conservation, variety introduction and testing, but due to the wide genetic diversity within and between species and inter-specific crossings, there is still room for further improvement of yield and fruit quality. However, to better exploit the various potentials of peppers, there is need to promote improved varieties and improve seed systems through enhanced public/private partnership.
Key words: Capsicum, pepper varieties, fruit morphotypes, capsaicin, seed systems.
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