Use of pods/seeds of Mucuna pruriens in the feeding of omnivores. Clearing of most

I haven’t been with Echo long - and the first thing I want to say is thank you: I think the exchange is great and I see a huge potential in it.
I worked as a young person as a volunteer in the Amazon of Peru with small farmers with a focus on Ground Cover Plants / “Abonos Verdes” and Agroforestry; one focus was the use of Mucuna pruriens. Since 2 years I am working again in the field of agricultural development projects and would like to
exchange aobut the following proposal:

Background situation:

  • The performance of Mucuna pruriens as a ground cover plant especially in the humid tropics is enormous and described in many places.
  • Also their seed yield potential is enormous, especially if the plants can climb up trees for example. (We routinely sow them at the borders of fields, which are usually skirted by secondary vegetation a few meters high, to slow the advance of vegetation into the fields).
  • Constructive use of the seeds or pods, especially in the feeding of omnivores, chickens, and pigs, opened the possibility of better using this potential and would be a strong impetus for small farmers to expand the use of mucuna, including for soil improvement.
  • The limiting factor here is the high content of L-dopa. Again, there are a number of publications, but they are all based on the mature seeds. The techniques discussed (especially roasting, cooking, etc.) are costly in terms of labor and energy, and therefore have little chance of being accepted by small farmers.


  • I have not yet found any information in which physiological phase Mucuna synthesis/forms the L-dopa is and whether there are possibly differences in which organs of the plant L-dopa is concentrated.
    If anyone has information on this I would be very grateful.

Suggestion if necessary:
Otherwise, I would suggest to clarify this question, by the following procedure:

  • Analysis of pods of two varieties of Mucuna (black seeds and ash-colored) at different stages of pod maturity: a) young pods, not yet fully developed in their length, seeds still small; b) pods fleshy, length fully developed, seeds fully developed but green; c) pods fully developed, turning yellow, beginning to mature; d) pods black, with dry, fully developed and seeds. The parameters should be, in each case: dry matter content; protein content; energy content, content of L-dopa.
  • If it is found that the content of L-dopa increases significantly only at the end of maturity, then a second series of experiments should follow: At the most promising stage of maturity (high energy and protein <=> low L-dopa), mill and ensilage the pods, possibly adding sugarcane stalks (sugarcane is generally easy to grow in the humid tropics and the sugar content supports lactic acid fermentation). Then an analysis as above of the finished silage.
  • I don’t know enough about the chemical properties of L-dopa; does anyone know if adding a simple and inexpensive input, e.g. chemical salt or some other " inexpensive" substance, transforms the L-dopa into a substance that is better tolerated by omnivores (chickens, pigs - ruminants seem to be able to digest L-dopa without significant impairment anyway.

I would appreciate an exchange on this point.
If the questions should be clarified with analyses then I would be grateful for a cooperation: If someone could reliably produce the samples in the vicinity of a laboratory that could perform the analyses, then I would seek funding for the analysis costs.

Thanks in advance
Herwart Groll
36100 Petersberg - Germany


“…In one study, L-Dopa was assayed in the roots, stems, leaves, and pods of dried Mucuna
pruriens, variety utilis plants, the stems and leaves of fresh plant material, in raw bean samples,
and in bean prepared according to four different recipes (Szabo and Tebbett, 2002).
Concentrations were 0.15% in dried leaves and pods, 0.49% in dried stems 4.47 to 5.39% in the
raw bean, 0.10% in beans boiled repetitively, and 2.38% in roasted beans. Chikagwa-Malunga
(2008a), reported that L-Dopa concentrations in the stems (0.1-0.2%) and whole plant (0.1-1.8%)
peaked at 110 days after planting while the concentration in the leaves remained constant (0.1-
0.3%) during plant maturation of Mucuna pruriens, variety utilis. Whole pods contained up to
4% L-Dopa and this concentration decreased with maturity. It is evident from the literature that
the highest concentration of L-Dopa is present in the seed, which is the main part of the plant
used in monogastric diets…”

Dear Robert,

Thank you very much for indicating this most useful information. I did not know the document and now I consider it as the best summary on the topic that I have become aware of so far => Reducing the content of L-dopa to make better use of Mucuna in the feeding of monogastric animals as well.

There are still a number of questions to be answered, how this information can be used in a practical application by small farmers, especially with regard to economic aspects (e.g. costs for containers for ensiling larger quantities of pods; suitable mill for crushing larger quantities; addition of sugar-containing components such as sugar cane, fruits etc that would be crushed together with the pods…).

I would be happy to stay in exchange and keep up the offer for a corresponding cooperation in order to test and, if necessary, also analytically support processes that are practicable for small farmers.

Thanks and All the best


“Efforts to improve the potential of Mucuna as a food and feed crop”


Here is “Mucuna as a Food and Feed Crop: An Overview”

Mucuna_as_a_Food_and_Feed_Crop_.pdf (85.0 KB)

which is a reference in the thesis.