Pigeon peas


Pigeon peas also referred in Swahili as mbaazi is produced as a vegetable or export grain crop in southern and eastern Africa. Pigeon pea is a perennial shrub that is commonly grown as an annual crop. It has very slow initial development (up to 2 months after planting). With a deep taproot, pigeon peas are able to take up nutrients and water from lower subsoil layers. Pigeon pea is well balanced nutritionally and an excellent source of protein. Pigeon pea is useful as tall hedges on dry soil and on the bunds of paddy fields. The branches and stems can be used for baskets and firewood. It is often grown as a shade crop, cover crop or windbreak. After establishment, pigeon pea improves the soil by its extensive root system. The bacterium Rhizobium that lives on the roots of the pigeon pea is able to fix nitrogen and thus to improve soil fertility. Fallen leaves are used as mulch. Traditional uses as medicine are many, e.g. young leaves are applied to sores, herpes and itches.


Varieties Kat 60/8, Kat 81/3/3, Kat 777, ICPL 89091, Mbaazi-1/2/3
Seed Rate 20-25 kg per ha
Fertilizer Rate Fertilizers hardly used.
Planting Spacing 30-50 cm x 75-150 cm and 10cm deep.
Husbandry Propagation is by seed. Pigeon pea thrives best in seedbeds prepared by deep ploughing and cultivations to reduce weeds. Plants are fairly slow to start and weed control for the first two months is important in crop establishment. Once plants are established they grow vigorously. In intercropping, the crop performs well with 2 rows of cereals (e.g. sorghum, millets), cotton or groundnut.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Cutworms Plant is cut at ground level. Use Pesticides
Fusarium wilt Partial or total wilting of plants at flowering and podding Use fungicides
Maturity Duration 3 – 6 months
Climatic Conditions Optimum temperatures for pigeon pea cultivation range from 18 to 38°C and rainfall optimum is 600-1000 mm/year. Pigeon pea is rarely found above altitudes of 2000 m. Drained soils of reasonable water-holding capacity and with pH 5-7 are favorable. Pigeon pea does not tolerate shallow soils or water logging or frost.
Harvesting The crop is usually cut near the ground when most pods are mature, or mature pods are picked individually. Green pods are picked over a long period. Ratoon cropping is mostly practiced. After harvest the stems are cut back to facilitate re-growth and a second crop is harvested in the subsequent season.
Post Harvest and Storage Entire air-dried plants or pods are threshed, usually by hand or with cattle, and seed is cleaned. Clean bins prevent insect attack, which can be considerable. Storage as split peas reduces bruchid attacks.
Growing Regions Central, Eastern, Western and Nyanza under irrigation.
Expected yields 4 – 10 tons per hectare


Processing Processing includes dhal making, either wet (after sprinkling heaps of seed) or by milling if dry.


Place Green pigeon pea is exported from Kenya to Europe.
Price Dry Peas: Kshs. 25 – 60 per kgPeas Pods: kshs. 40 – 85 per kg


Products and Uses It is eaten as a vegetable (immature pods or green pea) or as dried grain (cooked and eaten as dhal, dry split cotyledons). The crop has many other uses: the wood is used as fuel, and the leaves and husks provide livestock feed.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Energy: 343 / 17%; Carbohydrates: 62.8 / 21%; Proteins: 21.7 / 43%; Calcium: 130 / 13%; Phosphorus: 367 / 37%; Potassium: 1392 / 40%.


Pigeon pea is the third most widely grown pulse crop in Kenya.


Income Per Hectare: Kshs 160,000 (4,000kgs * 40/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 50,000 (30% of Income).NET:    Kshs. 110,000 (70% of Income).Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 1200 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year.