Cowpea, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp,also known as black-eyed or southern pea belongs to the genus vigna, section Catiang,species unguiculata. It comprises four subspecies namely: unguiculata,stenophylla,dekintiana and tenius (Ng and Marechal,1985).The subspecies unguiculata is the only cultivated while the other three are wild relatives.
IITA genebank holds in the seedbank a total collection of 1543 accessions consisting of 54 species of cowpea wild relatives from 62 countries across the globe.
These collections are conserved both in the medium (5°C) and long (-20°C) term cold stores and are been characterized and screened for important agronomic traits for cowpea genetic improvement. These germplasm are available for agricultural research for humanity.