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Fabaceae, Cajanus cajan, Guandu (Central America), Pigeon Pea (English), Njuju (Embu), Mbaazi (Swahili)

March 3, 2008

Guandu is a tropical nitrogen-fixing shrub, growing up to 3 m high. The shrubs tend to develop dense crowns, thus dense planting of guandu is a very effective form of suppressing weeds.

C. cajan is cultivated in tropical America, tropical Africa, and in India, to a large extent. The shrubs do best in semi-arid to sub-humid regions. It can be found naturalized in disrupted wasteland areas.

The peas can be used as any pea, or bean, cooked into rice, eaten raw, mixed with anything. In Kenya the peas are mashed with other foods like potatoes, cooked with maize, or made into a stew (mboga) and eaten with ugali (a mass of mashed cassava). The peas are boiled, mashed and rolled into balls or boiled with sorghum.

Stalks can be uses for firewood after harvest. In many areas it is an important fodder plant during the dry season, for donkey, cattle and goats.

Pigeon pea excellent as an inter-crop, covercrop, or when rotated in-between crops. It is best inter cropped with deeply rooting crops and trees.

Seeds cannot be stored without insecticide, neem leaves work.

The origin of this crop is still up for debate. Some think it originated in Africa, other believe it to have been Asia. The only other species in this genus, C. kerstingii, can be found growing wild in West Africa, thus supporting the assumption that it is native to the region.

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