Introduction Origin Area and production Uses



  • Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp.) is a backbone of nutritional security of our country.
  • India has virtual monopoly in its production by bagging 80 per cent of world's total production.

  • Pigeonpea like other pulses is considered a subsidiary crop.
  • It is often grown on marginal lands and is usually intercropped with crops as sorghum and cotton, etc. As a crop of secondary importance in many of these systems, it receives little or no purchased inputs.
  • However, farmers in some redgram growing areas are growing more sole crops of pigeonpeas and the crop is increasingly gaining status as a cash crop.
  • Besides, it supplements the important component of protein particularly to Indian population where their diet is based on cereal itself.


Origin and history

  • Its actual place of origin is very controversial as some people believe it to originate in India while others say that red gram was found in the wild estate in Africa in regions of upper Nile and the coastal districts of Angola. From Africa it spread to other parts of the world and to India. Australian people grow it for fodder and vegetable purposes. Now, it is being grown in Africa, America, Australia, Hawaii, Ceylon, Netherland, Malaya, East and West Indies, India, Indo-China, Pakistan, etc.
  • In India arhar is mostly grown in the states of UP, MP, Maharashtra, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Rajasthan, HP, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc. However, the major area is restricted to north Indian states.

Botanical description

  • Arhar is grown as annual but tur varieties grow like perennial plants. The plants are bushy, densely branched having a height of about 150 cm to 300 cm depending upon type and management practices. It bears tap root with well developed lateral or secondary roots that consist nodules on them like any other leguminous plants. The stem is strong, woody, round but slightly ridged during active growth period having numerous branches.
  • The leaves are pinnately compound and trifoliate with oblong, lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are arranged in racemes order. They open in the evening and remain open whole night and upto noon time of the text day. The structure of flower, nature of pollination, pod setting and pod characters are similar to that of any other papilionaceous plants.


Area, Production and Productivity

  • Grown in approximately 50 countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas, mostly as an intercrop with cereals.
  • Pigeonpea ranks sixth in area and production in comparison to other grain legumes such as beans, peas, and chickpeas, it is used in more diverse ways than others.
  • It is now widely grown in the Indian subcontinent that accounts for almost 90% of the world's crops.
  • Other regions where pigeonpea is grown are Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Americas. There is substantial area of pigeonpea in Kenya, Uganda, and Malawi in eastern Africa, and in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico in Central America.
  • In most other countries pigeonpea is grown in small areas and as backyard crop.
  • Mostly consumed as split dhal, but is also consumed as a green vegetable in many countries. Recently, its use as a fodder crop has increased. Seed and fodder contain approx. 20-22% protein.

Worldwide Area, Production and Productivity details for Redgram during 2012

Country Area (Ha) Production (MT) Yield (Kg/ha)
World 5324322 4237122 796
India 3860000 2650000 687
Kenya 143212 89390 624
Malawai 203400 237210 1166
Myanmar 650000 900000 1385
Nepal 17471 14082 806
Uganda 101000 84200 834

Source: FAO STAT


Uses of pigeonpea or redgram

  • Pigeonpea is mainly used as a dal, while the tender green seeds are consumed as vegetable, crushed dry seeds as animal feed and green leaves as fodder. The stems are used as fuel wood and to make buts, baskets, etc. The leaves can be used to seed feed silkworms and plants are used to culture the lac producing insect. On maintain slopes, it reduces soil erosion and permits multiple harvests and browsing.
  • It serves as a wind break and live fence or as green manure and has immense potential in the agroforestry system. Pigeonpea is rich in iron, iodine and the essential amino acids like lysine, cystine and arginine. Pigeonpea being a leguminous plant is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and thereby restore lot of nitrogen in the soil.
  • Redgram can be processed by canning and freezing for export purpose. In Venezuela, a local soft drink known as 'Chicha' is made from pigeonpea. Most recent evidence indicates the possibility of its use for paper pulp.