Development of Pigeonpea(Cajanus Cajan (L.)hybrids for the Semi-arid Kenya

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Margaret Nafula Makelo
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Margaret Nafula Makelo
Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.) is cultivated by many farmers in the semi-arid areas of Kenya as a source of food and cash. However, the yields have remained low, ranging between 500 to 800 kg ha·1 . Apart from drought, fusarium wilt is reported to affect yield. Breeding pigeon pea hybrids, using cytoplasmic male sterile (CMS) lines, hybridized with the local improved germplasm, have the potential for increasing yield and improve income for smallholder farmers. The objectives of the study were to: 1) examine the various stakeholders of the pigeonpea value chain and their core functions and identify characteristics of the pigeon pea varieties preferred by the market to be considered in the hybrid breeding programme, 2) evaluate cytoplasmic male sterile lines of Indian origin for stability across several environments in Kenya, 3) screen pigeon pea genotypes for general resistance to Fusarim udum Butler and 4) evaluate pigeonpea hybrids for grain yield and earliness across sites and seasons in Kenya. The stakeholder analysis established that the main players in the pigeon pea value chain were farmers, traders/processors, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, and Ministry of Agriculture. White seed, large seed size and medium maturity were the preferred traits by farmers and processors/exporters for both domestic and export markets. The unavailability of quality seed in sufficient quantities of high yielding varieties was cited as the main factor negatively affecting pigeonpea production. The stakeholder analysis approach, used for the first time in a breeding programme, demonstrated that it can be an important tool that can be used to diagnose crop production constraints, and define opportunities available for setting up a breeding programme that is highly client-oriented.