5 October 2018

Research pick: Pigeon pea - "No rain but bumper harvest: the magic of pigeonpea in semi-arid Kenya"

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) has been cultivated as a food crop for at least 3500 years. It is a great source of protein and widely consumed in South Asia, as well as Asia as a whole, Africa, and Latin America. Researchers in Kenya point out that land degradation and drought conditions can seriously constrain agricultural production in arid and semi-arid areas. However, even without significant rain there can be bumper harvests of this crop plant.

The researchers have looked at the yields of sole- and inter-crops of maize and pigeon ea varieties under different weather conditions over the period 2009 to 2013 and found that harvests where the Mbaazi II strain of pigeon pea was intercropped with maize offers the best option for marginal farmers especially if water conservation methods are employed and excess crop and waste plants parts are ploughed back into the soil rather than being fed to livestock.

Kwena, K.M., Ayuke, F.O., Karuku, G.N. and Esilaba, A.O. (2018) ‘No rain but bumper harvest: the magic of pigeonpea in semi-arid Kenya’, Int. J. Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.181–203.

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