Cultivar Selection and Management Strategies for Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet in Africa
The single greatest impact of climate change for farmers throughout the tropics is rainfall uncertainty. This crisis calls for popularization of resilient crop species which can withstand periods of drought and respond with vigorous growth and food production when rainfall resumes. Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet, a crop native to Africa, demonstrates just such resilience and yet was nearly lost to African farmers during the colonial era when faster-producing Phaseolus sp. beans replaced it in all but a few geographic areas. Unfortunately, the decline in lablab production was accompanied by a loss of genetic diversity and a loss of knowledge of appropriate agronomic practices for the crop.
This chapter presents initial results of field trials of 28 lablab cultivars at three locations in northern Tanzania. Cultivars selected from the core collection developed by Pengelly and Maass (Genet Resour Crop Evol 48:261–272, 2001) as well as farmer landraces varied widely in relative maturity, growth habit, insect colonization, and grain yield. Intercropping with maize reduced productivity of most cultivars but suppressed the population of pod-sucking bugs. Lablab cultivars were more drought resilient than cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) grown for comparison. Strategies for the improvement and repopularization of this “lost” crop are discussed.
KeywordsLablab purpureus Cover crops Legumes Drought resilience
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