Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) is a vital legume crop for households in Zambia. This crop is considered an important part of the Zambian diet and its use is promoted by the government through different ministries. However, Zambian diets are focused mainly on maize and often lack adequate amounts of protein and micronutrients, which can be obtained from plant sources such as legumes. Inadequate protein and micronutrient intake is considered one of the key contributing factors to the undernutrition prevalent among women and children.
With the complexity of the food system and its many inter-relationships, identifying factors affecting food choices and consumption is important for understanding and counteracting low dietary diversity and malnutrition. This research aims to analyse available information on cowpea and its associated value chain components in order to gain insight into the underlying motivations for its consumption in rural households. Consumer preferences related to diet will be explored by means of consumer rankings of the importance of factors such as availability of and access to healthy foods, food price and affordability, food taste, ease of preparation, degree of processing, colour, texture, and smell. Barriers to and drivers of consumption of cowpea as a complementary food by consumers – particularly women and children – will be identified.
The outputs of this study (including academic publications and a recipe book) are intended to promote consumption of this nutritious crop and also to influence current policy implementation strategies linked to the entire cowpea value chain in Zambia.