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Pigeon pea

The Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan; also Cajanus indicus) is a member of the family Fabaceae.

Other common names are dahl, gandul, red gram, Congo pea, Gungo pea, and no eye pea.

The cultivation of the pigeon pea goes back at least 3000 years. The centre of origin is most likely Asia from where it travelled to East Africa and by means of the slave trade to the New World. Today pigeon peas are widely cultivated in all tropical and semi-tropical regons of both the Old and the New World.


Pigeon peas are both food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and forage/cover crop.

Pigeon peas are nutritionally important, as they contain high levels of protein (typically 22% in Dahl) and the important amino acids methionine, lysine, and tryptophan. In combination with cereals, pigeon peas make a well balanced human food.

In some countries, such as the Dominican Republic and Hawaii, pigeon peas are grown for canning.

The woody stems of pigeon peas are used as firewood, fencing and thatch. In Thailand, pigeon peas are grown as host for scale insects which produce lac.

Pigeon peas are in some areas an important crop for green manure. They can after incorporation provide up to 40 kg nitrogen per hectare.


In most areas pigeon peas are grown in association with other row crops such as sorghum, millet, or maize. Pigeon peas can be of a perennial type, in which the crop can last 3-5 years (although the seed yield drops considerably after the first two years), or an annual type more suitable for grain production.

Pigeon peas are very drought resistant and can be grown in areas with less than 650 mm annual rainfall.

World production of pigeon peas is estimated at 4.6 million hectares. About 82% of this is in grown in India.