This report examines Leucaena leucocephala, a versatile legume whose full potential is untapped. A "new" crop plant for tropical and sub-tropical countries, its possibilities are particularly important to marginal lands and low-income farmers. Leucaena was used 2,000 years ago by Mayans and Zapotecs of Central America, but only in recent decades has a suggestion of its promise become apparent.
Researchers in Hawaii and tropical Australia have found that cattle feeding on leucaena may show weight gains comparable to those of cattle feeding on the best pastures anywhere; private firms in the Philippines have developed a sizable trade in processed animal feeds containing leucaena; researchers in the Philippines demonstrated leucaena's potential for reforesting eroded hillslopes, for use as firewood, for fueling industrial boilers, and for producing paper pulp; while in Mexico (leucaena's native habitat) researchers have located over 100 varieties for future testing.
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