Pigeon Pea - Origins


The cultivation of the pigeon pea goes back at least 3,500 years. The centre of origin is the eastern part of peninsular India, including the state of Orissa, where the closest wild relatives (Mansi) occur in tropical deciduous woodlands. Archaeological finds of pigeon pea include those from two Neolithic sites in Orissa, Gopalpur and Golbai Sassan dating between 3,400 and 3,000 years ago, and sites in South India, Sanganakallu and Tuljapur Garhi, also dating back to 3,400 years ago. From India it traveled to East Africa and West Africa. There, it was first encountered by Europeans, so it obtained the name Congo Pea. By means of the slave trade it came to the American continent, probably in the 17th century.

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