Post-flooding disaster crop diversity recovery: a case study of Cowpea in Mozambique


Morag Ferguson, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), c/o International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), P.O. Box 30709, Nairobi 00100, Kenya. Telephone: +254 20 4223000; fax: +254 20 4223001; e-mail:


To restore food security to a traditional African cropping system following a sudden loss of seed, genetic diversity must be re-established. This study examines the extent to which Cowpea diversity was reinstated two years after a flood disaster in Gaza Province, Mozambique. The contribution that seed from various sources made to the recovery was assessed using semi-structured interviews and morphological and molecular data. Data suggest that diversity had recovered to some extent yet there was evidence of a narrowing of the genetic base, with fewer rare alleles and differences in the distribution of allele frequencies. Although the main channels for accessing seed after the flood were seed relief and markets, these sources contributed to minimal and different diversity. It appears that diversity was regained primarily through social networking in the form of loans or gifts of seed from friends and relatives. The results of the study are discussed in relation to seed relief approaches.