Cowpea is classified as one of the underutilized and poor peopleâ€™s food. This perception dominates in Africa and has been a major constraint to consumption of the grains. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate the perceptions and utilization of cowpea among farmers and consumers in two rural communities in South Africa. Systematic random sampling of 221 respondents participated in the study using self-administered questionnaire. About 63% of the respondents were female evenly distributed among the age group between 20 and 51 years. The majority of the respondents expressed positive perceptions for consuming cowpea towards well-being (83.3%), satiety (86.8%), with few expressing discomfort of bloating (46.6%). However, 47% of the respondents were aware that the vegetative parts of cowpea plant other than the grains, are edible, indicating under-utilization of the plant. The main methods cooking were mainly boiling (81%) and stewing (71.5%), with bean stew as the popular dish (74.6%). Spearmanâ€™s correlation coefficient revealed that there was a strong positive correlation between perception and utilization (p= 0.83, p < 0.005). Hence, these perceptions call for strategic interventions that would increase the level of consumption of cowpea, particularly, the other parts of the plants rather than the grain only.
Keywords: Cowpea, utilization, farmer perception, correlation coefficient