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 Cereals and Pulses
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Pigeon Pea
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Rice Bean
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Pigeon Pea

Scientifically known as Cajanus Cajan, Pigeon Pea belongs to the widespread family of pulses. In India Pigeon Pea is more popular as Arhar or red gram. Its name changes according to the places it is grown in but its qualities remain the same irrespective of climate and soil. It is counted amongst the major pulses of India and many other Asian, African, Latin American, and the Caribbean regions.

Generally Pigeon Pea is a shrub which grows around a meter tall. And it has special short season varieties available as well. Usually the flowering response is enhanced when daylight is 11 to 12

hours long. However due to scientific advances hybrid varieties are available as well which respond to both longer and shorter day lengths equally. On a normal basis flowering begins in 120 to 150 days and accordingly pigeon pea seeds mature in 250 days. Growing Pigeon Pea is profitable enough as these plants yield in less fertile soil and require only normal rainfall. Pods of pigeon pea vary in size and colour ranging from green to purple or dark brown. Raw Pigeon Pea seeds extracted from green colored pods generally are said to be better than those extracted from purple pods.
The Pigeon Pea has a noticeably higher soil adaptability in comparison to other leguminous crops.this proves that Pigeon Pea is a better performing nitrogen fixer. It blossoms well in a wide range of soil types. It is considerably endurable in saline soil conditions as well. Being resistant to nematodes it can also survive in soil with pH as low as 5 and as high as 8.

However there various other factors which effectively reduce the productivity of Pigeon Pea to a greater extent. One of the factors which act as hindrance in its productivity are damages caused by various fungi, bacteria, viruses and insect pests. Genetic variations and incompatibility among various wild varieties of Pigeon Pea have also resulted in failure of conventional plant breeding methods.

Science has devised numerous methods to introduce agronomically useful traits into established pea varieties with the help of genetic engineering technology. This additional tool has manipulated the plant genetically to overcome the constraints and develop the plant in useful manners. Thus today we have various genotypes of Pigeon Pea with devised and diverse qualities such as resistance to pests and diseases. More than 11,000 samples have been made available in ICRISAT(an organization working on sustainable ecological farming in Africa and India).


  • Survive in poor soil conditions
  • Tolerant of dry weather
  • Nutritious and high-protein pulse crop
  • Leaves can be used for animal feed
  • The fast-growing plants make good shade for other crops, e. g. vegetables, herbs, vanilla
  • Perennial for up to 5 years
  • Woody parts can be used for firewood
  • Water and nutrients from deep in the soil can be caught by its deep taproot
  • Plants can be used along contour barriers for erosion control
  • Helps in agro-ecology, performance of Pigeon Pea as an intercrop is remarkable and even after the harvesting of the intercrops it continues protecting the soil.

It is cultivated worldwide on 4.92 million hectares with an annual production of 3.65 Mt and productivity of 898 kg ha-1

In Asia, India, Nepal, China and Myanmar are the major producers of this crop and interestingly Myanmar's major motive behind producing Pigeon Pea to export it to India.

Hybrid Technology
ICRISAT and partners have generated the world’s first commercial cytoplasmic male-sterility (CMS) based hybrid in Pigeon Pea.

Pigeon pea
is also an ideal foraging crop for honeybees.

Some high-yielding varieties with greenish pods have declared Pigeon Pea as an ideal vegetable crop as these varieties respond really well to organic nutrition and application of rhizobium and other bio-fertilizers thus resulting in higher yields.

Pigeon Pea is an ideal substitute for Garden Pea as the fully grown green seeds are cooked the same way as Garden Pea seeds are infact certain recipes in combination with other vegetables like potato, carrot, cauliflower and cabbage constituting a delicious as well as nutritious cuisine.

  • Pigeon Pea takes longer time to be cooked
  • Garden Pea is sweeter than Pigeon Pea
  • In comparison to 10% soluble sugar content in Garden Pea, Pigeon Pea contains only 5%
  • Higher protein content in Garden Pea.
  • Higher nutritional content
  • Greater starch digestibility

According to a joint Spanish-Venezuelan research, adding flour from Pigeon Peas can lead to a nutritionally enhanced and power boosting semolina pasta which can be cooked in shorter time period.

1.Pigeon Pea Soup Recipe
With ingredients like smoked ham. boned ham cock, spicy dried pork sausage, chicken broth and diced cups of water mixed with other spices added to taste turns out to be a amazingly delicious soup.

2.Endowed with a nutty, earthy flavor, the pigeon pea is often paired with rice. lets tell you how to prepare Pigeon Pea with Rice.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onion, bacon, and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Pour in rice, chopped green onions, cumin, pepper, and peas. Now cook for 8 minutes or until it is thoroughly heated. Stir in parsley. Garnish with green onions, if desired. And a delicious dish is ready to be served.

Other recipes are Methi Tadka Dal, Khatti Dal, Khichdi, Rasam, Sambar and many more.