Close-up of the flowers and green pods
of the pigeon-pea.

Pigeon-pea is a grain legume crop that can be a very important crop in the rural areas where it can be grown for human consumption and supplement the range of food crops available. The introduction of this crop in the rural areas will help alleviate poverty by providing a source of food. In South Africa, this crop is not grown as a field crop. Long-duration unimproved pigeon-pea is grown as shade plants in home gardens, where only a few long rows are planted.

Pigeon-pea has the ability to survive and give good economic returns when planted under dryland conditions. Because this is a legume crop, its root nodules enrich the soil by adding about 40kg of nitrogen per hectare. It can be planted commercially, because its production requires low farming inputs. It is a drought-tolerant crop, and can therefore, be planted under dryland production conditions. After harvesting, it can be used as fodder for feeding animals.



Pigeon-pea can be planted as a food- security crop. It is a good source of protein and vitamin B. Pigeon-pea can be grown on a wide range of soils that is not deficient in lime. The optimum pH is 5-7 (KCI). A fine, smooth, well- prepared seedbed with a moisture content of about 40 to 50% is recommended for efficient germination.

The germination is poor on black turf soils because of their high clay percentage. In general, pigeon-pea is a photoperiod-sensitive crop. The time to flowering and pod setting is affected by the sowing date. The crop should be planted from October through to December.


Shorter, earlier flowering pigeon-pea and slower
growing lines can be seen in the trial plot at an evaluation site.