Genetic Resource Center (IITA) having the largest collection of Cowpea in the World (with Over 15,000 Accessions of cowpea).
Today, the world is losing Genetic Resources (Germplasm) of varieties at unprecedented rate. Therefore, Agricultural sustainability of varieties now depends on strong conservation composite. Over the years, the drive to conserve genetic materials for food security had pose major challenge for researchers and breeders with few among many had been able to conserve numbers of accession accordingly. IITA Genetic Resource Center as an institute took it as a mission critical to conserve over 32,000 accession of major seed crops, which are Cowpea, Maize, Soybean, Africa yam bean, Bambara groundnut, Wild Vigna and Miscellaneous legumes upon which 60% of these accessions are cowpea, making it the world largest cowpea collection.
IITA Genetic Resource Center is able to achieve her conservative approach, through best practice and scientific procedures of collection, conservation, characterization that provide the genetic resources for crop improvement and global food security. To conserve these seed collections, the orthodox seeds are maintained at optimal water content in the medium (50c and 30-35% relative humidity) or long term (-20oc under vacuum) storage condition and safety duplicated at Svalbard Global Seed Vault (Norway), Saskatoon (Canada), CIMMYT(Mexico) and CIAT(Columbia). The regeneration process of the cowpea collection implemented at the screen house and in the field when the viability of the seeds drop below certain threshold value (85%).
Among the world collection, IITA Genetic Resource Center holds the most largest and diverse collection of cowpea with over 15,000 distinct materials from over 50 countries of Africa cultivar’s and global diversity. Until date, over 11,000 accessions assigned with digital object identifier (DOI) have been recognize by world data base search engine on the genesis dashboard. Cowpea are highly nutritious as it contain high protein content for growth and repair of worm out tissues in animal, some cowpea leaves serves as food source for some cultures in Africa.
Conclusively, IITA vision statement “The lead research partner facilitating agricultural solutions to overcome hunger and poverty in the tropics” is validated by conserving the largest collection of cowpea in the world with over 15,000 accession held in their genebank integral in the protection and reservation of cowpea species to avoid loss of genetic diversity for the universe.