Pigeon Pea

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Pigeon Pea (adhar) name for the pulse species, Cajanus cajan locally known as arhar, of family Leguminosae, traditionally grown as a minor crop. It usually takes over 300 days to mature. It is probably a native of Africa, where it is sometimes found wild or naturalized. It appears that it was brought to India in pre-historic times and this region now constitutes a centre of diversity with the greatest number of cultivars. In Bangladesh, Arhar is mostly cultivated in Kushtia, Rangpur, Dinajpur, and Jessore districts. Total acreage of its cultivation is about 5,215 and the annual production is about 1,005 m tons.

Arhar or Pigeon pea shows wide adaptability in regard to climate and soils. It is drought resistant with a deep root system which permits good growth under semi-arid conditions with under 65 cm of rain per year. It is less suitable for very wet areas.

Arhar is a woody, short-lived, perennial shrub, 1-4 m tall, and is sometimes grown as an annual. Flowers are yellow. Seeds are white or light tan in colour. The young green seeds are eaten as a vegetable and the ripe dry seeds are boiled and eaten as a pulse. The tops of the plants and their fruits provide excellent fodder, and are also made into hay and silage. They are also planted as green manure and cover crops, and are used as wind-breaks. The dried stalks are used as firewood, and for thatching and making baskets. It can be grown on almost all types of soil provided it is not markedly deficient in lime. [Nishit Kumar Paul]