Pigeon peas are both food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and forage/cover crop.
In India, split pigeon peas (toor dal) are one of the most popular pulses—next to chickpeas (chana) and mung.
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 46,000 km2. About 82% of this is in grown in India.
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