Pigeon Pea’s Role in a Cacao Agroforest

While on a hike, Sipriano Canti noticed a Pigeon Pea tree covered with dried seed pods. He, Jacob Marlin and Heather Barrett collected many of the pods. Soon after, Mark Canti and Lenardo Ash removed seeds from the dried pods and placed them in bags filled with soil. The bags will be placed in the plant nursery where seeds will become sapling trees. Eventually, saplings will be moved to the cacao agroforestry project to provide shade for cacao trees.

About Pigeon Pea

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), is one of many tree species of shade tree that has been planted at BFREE. This is a legume that can be used as a food crop (dried peas, flour, or green vegetable peas) and a forage or cover crop. Pigeon pea is an important crop for green manure. Green manure is created by leaving uprooted or sown crop parts to wither on a field so that they serve as a mulch and soil amendment. The woody stems of pigeon peas can also be used as firewood, fencing and thatch.

Pigeon pea will provide shade for young cacao trees. As the cacao trees grow and require more space, the Pigeon peas will will be removed and only cacao trees and permanent shade trees will remain. For example, Belizean hardwoods like Barbajalote and Mahogany will continue to provide shade over the long-term.

About Cacao Agroforestry

Agroforestry practices like these can make agriculture permanently sustainable on a site and can play a critical role in biodiversity conservation. By integrating cacao trees with other short and long-lived trees, we lengthen the time that crops can be grown on a given piece of land. At BFREE, we continue to explore cacao-based agroforestry as a method for restoring rainforest habitat.

Want to learn more?

Check out: Integrating Landscapes: Agroforestry for Biodiversity Conservation and Food Sovereignty.

Edited by Florencia Montagnini is Volume 12 of the Advances in Agroforestry Series produced by Springer Publishing.

BFREE Head Ranger, Sipriano Canti, holds Pigeon Pea seeds and a pod in his hands.

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