The Cowpeas Project

A project to ascertain household food and nutrition security and alleviate poverty amongst rural communities through growing cowpeas.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Rural Women's Advancement Trust (RWAT)

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Zimbabwe

Headquarters location: City

Bromley, Goromonzi District, Mashonaland East Province

Location(s) of impact

ZIMBABWE: Harare, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Mutare, Nyanga and Goromonzi ZAMBIA: Lusaka


Facebook URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

1. Food and Nutrition insecurity at household level:- * 30% of rural population(2.8million) in Zimbabwe is undernourished * Despite this there is underutilization of nutrient rich cowpeas which are widely grown by especially small scale women farmers. * Consumption of cowpeas is very low as there is very little attention on value addition of the crop. addition of cowpeas. 2. Child malnutrion: can be easily suppressed through consumption of cowpeas 3. Poverty

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

* Value addition to promote consumption: In Zimbabwe cowpeas are generally consumed as a single boiled food or mixed with maize, round nuts and ground nuts. This becomes very boring as there are no and other recipes used. Despite there high nutritional values the majority of the populace shuns eating them. To address this the organisation thought of teaching the communities on value addition of this tasty crop. * Process to a more acceptable form: This led the organisation to train communities to make cowpeas sausages, cowpeas flour and instant porridge as it is one of the modern consumptive methods that is appreciated all over the world, especially children. * To be consumed mainly as a relish with starches * Avail affordable and accessible improved nutritious foods to rural communities: Cowpeas are easy and cheap to grow, as they require minimal labour and can be grown without fertilisers and chemicals. They are also drought resistant and also tolerate errant rains.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

1. 3 300 (between the ages of 15 - 60) from Bromley women now grow cowpeas as a staple food not as side crop like they did before. With many putting up to 3 crops on one hectre in one summer cropping season which is between November and April of each year. 2. Over 150(between 15-60) women (between 15-60)now make cowpeas sausages which they sell to the rest of the community and some boarding schools nearby. This has helped in poverty alleviation amongst the women reducing . 3. Environmentally cowpeas is being used as live mulch during Conservation Agriculture(CA) practice by women who are practising it. This helps with water retention and boosting of nutrients to the maize crop. This is one of the trainings we wish to expand on and reach out to more community members 4. Environmentally again cowpeas is mainly grown by small scale women farmers who can not afford fertilisers , they inste use cowpeas to boost soil nutrients through crop rotations on a seasonal basis.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Financially the organisation sustains this project from membership fees of $10-00 that is paid by every woman who joins and wants to benefit from the programmes. So far over 4 000 women have been trained in cowpeas growing and value addition. The women are charged between $1-00 & $5-00 for the trainings. We also had a small grant of $10 000-00 for this project. Long term financial sustainability is going to be through earned income from commercialisation of processed cowpea products especially sausages and instant porridge. Both products that are going to be commercialised and scaled-up in 2018 in Zimbabwe an as they can be consumed by both adults and children alike which will make them very popular because of their nutritious values as well as taste and affordable cost.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

This initiative differs from other organisations cause it is an all rounder: * It is a grassroots initiative * It is also a commercialisation initiative. The initiative helps the community alleviate poverty amongst themselves as they will consume self grown nutritious crops and can start other initiatves like catttle & goat rearing using cowpeas shells as stockfeed. It can easily be scaled-up and become commercially viable and impact more people globally over a period of 2 years.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Erica Chimhungwe a 65 year old widow living with her 3 grand children one of whom is an orphaned HIV positive 15 year old. 2 other children's parents are living in South Africa since 2013 thinking that they were going for greener pastures. Up to now they have not managed to send any money to Erica. Her HIV grand son is on Anti Retroviral Treatment(ART) and he needs nutritious food which he has to take in small portions 5 times a day. She has to fend for this boy , the 2 others and herself. although she had a reasonable size piece of land she could not afford putting up any crops because she had no money for seed and fertiliser. RWAT's introduced her to the cowpeas project. After she and 10 other members were trained in cowpeas growing and harvesting, it was then suggested we train them on how best to store them and the processing initiative was born with Erica as Chairlady.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Joseph Brenyah

There is to need to work on the financial sustainability plan.