Velvetbean (Mucuna Pruriens) Production in Southern Africa
Velvet bean is a high yielding leguminous forage crop that is high in nitrogen (N)/crude protein content. It is usually sown as an N-fixing ley crop or as a green manure crop to improve soil fertility. In the sub-humid regions it can be intercropped with maize to improve soil fertility, maximize grain / herbage yields per unit area and provide mixed crop for hay/silage making. Whether it is grown as a single or mixed crop Velvet bean provides early dry season grazing or fodder for hay-making or mixed-crop silage (improving the N content of cereal or grass silage). Its hay and silage can be used as supplementary feed during the dry season as they both improve the digestibility of poor quality roughages, such as maize stover. Mucuna is a prolific seeder and its seed (26 % CP) can be used in home-mixed rations to replace commercial supplements. However, its 3 grain is not so useful to non-ruminant livestock. It can only be used for human consumption after reducing this toxin by boiling and discarding the water several times. Velvet bean can be grown for soil fertility, green manure and as a cover crop in Conservation Agriculture (CA).