ECHO now has a fairly steady supply of Moringa stenopetala seed. As reported in previous issues of EDN, this is an African relative to the more commonly known Moringa oleifera. Moringa stenopetala seems to be much more drought-tolerant, and has larger leaflets which many people say are better tasting.
We have seed of three types of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan, or congo pea) in good supply. Why grow pigeon peas? This is what is written in our Technical Note on the plant, “I think of three principal reasons. (1) They grow under poor soil conditions. (2) They are tolerant of dry weather. (3) They are a nutritious, high-protein pulse crop. Other reasons include: (1) Leaves can be used for animal feed. (2) The fast-growing plants make good shade for other crops, e.g. vegetables, herbs, vanilla. (3) Plants are perennial for up to 5 years. (4) Woody parts can be used for firewood. (5) Water and nutrients from deep in the soil can be caught by its deep taproot.”
ECHO now has ‘2-B Bushy’ seed available. It is a determinant variety developed in Puerto Rico and is a bushier type than most pigeon peas. ‘Caqui’ is a selection from South America that was developed primarily for use as a fodder or green manure, though it is still acceptable for human food. ‘Agroforestry Select’ is a “folk” selection of an upright pigeon pea from Thailand further selected in Hawaii. As the name implies, the selection has been made with agroforestry (firewood, green manure, woody stakes) in mind, though the peas produced are useful for human consumption as well. Pigeon peas are commonly requested from ECHO’s seedbank. These varieties may facilitate more diverse uses of pigeon pea in your area of the world.
Also available: ‘Kahala’ soybean, a nematode resistant cultivar from the University of Hawaii. ‘African’ okra. Previously mentioned in EDN, this variety continues to impress us with its ability to continue producing in short days after other okra have ceased flowering. The pods are edible even at a fairly large size. This variety was much sought after by Haitians when they saw it in full leaf and producing in the Central Plateau in August, when their other okras had died. If okra is already grown in your area, this one may well be worth a trial for comparison. Broom corn – this species of sorghum is grown not for food, but primarily for the long, thin stalks which support the seed in the seed panicle. After the seed is threshed out, these dried stalks traditionally are used to make high quality brooms and could also be used for making marketable craft items.
One free trial packet of each of the above varieties may be requested from ECHO by anyone working not-for-profit with farmers in developing countries.
Sonke, D. 2001. Moringa stenopetala, Pigeon Pea, Soybean, African Okra . ECHO Development Notes no. 71