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Pigeonpea [(Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.)] production system, farmers’ preferred traits and implications for variety development and introduction in Benin

Ayenan, MathieuAnatole Tele, Ofori, Kwadwo, Ahoton, LéonardEssèhou, Danquah, Agyemang
Agriculture & food security 2017 v.6 no.1 pp. 48
Cajanus cajan, agroecological zones, breeding, corn, cropping systems, crops, cultivars, food security, growers, markets, men, pigeon peas, production technology, seeds, villages, Benin
BACKGROUND: The success of crop varieties introduction is tightly linked to the uses, biophysical conditions, the cropping systems in which the crop is integrated and farmers’ and consumers’ preferences. In Benin, however, pigeonpea production systems including the cropping systems, marketing, utilizations and preferences have received little attention. This study aimed at analyzing farmers’ practices and constraints related to pigeonpea production as well as identifying farmers’ preferred traits in pigeonpea. METHODS: The study was conducted in three pigeonpea-growing agroecological zones in Benin. Participatory rural appraisal tools including individual interview (n = 302) and group discussion were used to collect information on production system, constraints and preferred traits. Fisher’s exact test was used to assess the relationship between crop associated with pigeonpea and the growing areas. Based on preferred traits, villages were clustered using UPGMA. RESULTS: Pigeonpea is predominantly grown by men. Approximately 98% of the pigeonpea growers associated pigeonpea with other crops, while 2% of them grew the crop in pure stand. Pigeonpea grown in association with maize (48.7%) was the most encountered cropping system. The type of crops associated with pigeonpea depended on the growing area (P < 0.001), and a high diversity in crops combination was observed in the Department of Couffo. Lack of improved varieties, low productivity and lack of quality seed were major factors constraining pigeonpea production. The pigeonpea seed system was essentially informal with self-saved seed (79%), purchase from fellow farmers or from local markets (12%) and gift/exchange (9%) as seeds sources. Farmers’ preferences traits varied across pigeonpea-growing area, but overall, high yielding, early maturing, and resistance to pod borers were the main reported preferred traits. CONCLUSION: Our results confirm the importance of pigeonpea both in the cropping systems and in contributing to ensure food security in the growing areas in Benin. Farmers’ varietal preferences were identified. This information is important for designing appropriate strategies for sustainable pigeonpea production. Insight gained into farmers’ preferred traits in pigeonpea varieties will also help in the choice of varieties or advanced breeding materials to be integrated into participatory varietal selection programs in order to improve productivity of the crop in Benin.