Survey questionnaires were administered to 50 farmers in three chiefdoms in the Moyamba District of southern Sierra Leone. The study was undertaken to gain insight into the indigenous farming practices for cowpea with emphasis on pest management. This is to serve as a guide in drawing up a research agenda and identifying appropriate measures for the control of cowpea pests. Farm sizes were generally small, usually less than 2 ha of intercropped cowpea. This suggests that the farmers were mostly subsistent and would require low cost inputs to boost production. Vertebrate and insect pests were identified by the farmers as limiting cowpea grain production. Insect pests were considered more serious than vertebrates. Pest control was mostly traditional and involved cultural measures such as weeding of plots, fencing, trapping and scaring of birds. These may be inefficient and labour intensive. Varieties planted by the farmers were mostly land races that have low yield potential and lack some other desirable agronomic character like semi-erectness and bold seeds. Selection criteria in breeding programmes should incorporate farmers' preferences which include high yields, sweet taste, resistance to pests and diseases, compatibility with the farming systems and acceptable seed appearance that would enhance marketing. The study further revealed that at present cowpea is grown mostly as a secondary crop. Therefore, introduced pest control efforts would have to be cheap, easy to adopt and integrative. These would include:
(a) education on control options hitherto unknown to the farmers;
(b) identifying and developing effective strategies that are low cost, labour insensitive, environmentally friendly and compatible with the socioculturel background of the farming community; and
(c) creating awareness on the necessity for the inputs to be readily available and affordable at the local government level.