Shrubby Pigeon Peas Transform Malawi Farming: 1st-Generation Perennial Grain Legumes

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Regency D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Wezi Mhango , Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Lilongwe, Malawi
An early sustainable intensification success in southern Africa will be reported on, addressing food and environmental services through diversifying maize-based farming systems with shrubby food legumes. This is a report from the frontline of smallholder agriculture in Malawi where participatory action research is underway, investigating new varieties of pigeonpea and mixed legume-maize systems, including a novel 'doubled up legume' shrubby system that has been widely adopted. Using a range of sustainable intensification metrics, the role of annual and shrubby perennial grain legumes will be discussed based on multi-year field experimentation and model outputs. Evidence will be presented of improvements in child nutrition, profitability and nitrogen fixation inputs, and robust food production in the face of climate variability. Production of high protein peas, livestock forage, and soil-improving organic matter are all attributes of this biologically unique form of agrodiversity, crucial to achieving sustainable outcomes through combinations with judicious inputs. Shrubby pigeonpea grown in mixed maize-grain legume systems demonstrates a novel life-history that has been overlooked, yet uniquely addresses smallholder resources and concerns, particularly those of women farmers.