- A dual-purpose forage legume traditionally grown in Kenya as a pulse crop for human consumption.
- Flowers and immature pods are used as a vegetable.
- Young leaves can be harvested, dried and made into leaf meal and mixed with groundnuts.
- A valuable fodder crop for cut-and-carry production system.
- Soil conservation as green manure or cover crop.
- Can be intercropped with maize crop to improve soil fertility, maize grain yield and cereal stover quality and quantity.
- Lablab grows well where rainfall is 650-3,000mm.
- Drought tolerant but loses leaves during prolonged dry periods.
- Tolerates short periods of flooding but is intolerant to poor drainage and prolonged floods.
- Complete cultivation is used for lablab.
- Seed rates of 12- 20 kg/ha are recommended.
- Rows should be 60-120 cm apart, with 30-60 cm between plants.
- Maintain a clean field free of weeds.
- First cutting should be done at the beginning of flowering (about 110 days after germination of seed). The cuts that follow give forage with more stems than leaves. The stems have lower feeding value.
- Recommended cutting height is 30cm above ground level and above the branches to allow for regrowth.
- It is possible to harvest lablab foliage (leaves and young stems) four times a year depending on soil moisture and fertility.
Lablab as a livestock feed
- Lablab can be fed as fresh foliage to pigs, poultry, rabbits, cattle and goats. Always wilt lablab foliage before feeding it to the animals.
- Excess lablab foliage can be conserved as silage when mixed with chopped elephant grass fodder.
- Lablab can be dried and conserved as hay.
- Lablab has a potential of alleviating nutrient deficiencies in poor-quality diets, especially during the dry season.
- Fresh lablab foliage should never be fed to milking animals one hour before or at milking time. The milk will have “off-flavour” and will not be suitable for human consumption because of bad smell.
- Wilting or drying lablab foliage before offering it to the cows will avoid “off-flavour” in the milk.
- In research supported by ASARECA, dairy cows on farms in Masaka district fed with diets of a mixture of elephant grass and forage legumes supplemented with 3 kg/day of Lablab hay and 4 kg/ cow/day of a homemade concentrate increased milk yield by 2-4 litres/cow/ day.
- The homemade concentrate comprised of maize bran (75 kg), mineral powder (2 kg); cotton seed cake (15 kg) and calliandra leaf hay (9 kg).
Lablab as a seed crop and a source of income
- High lablab seed yields of 1-2.5 tonnes/ha are obtained under proper management.
- Treat the seed with an insecticide to control pests.
- A kilogramme of lablab seed is sold at (sh8,000-sh12,000).