Provenance selection for adaptability and fast growth, and for uniform fruit quality: large size and good taste, for example.
Study of traditional methods to gain insights into production.
Methods that prolong viability of inga seeds.
The use of the leaves for fodder, and their nutritional qualities.
Development of methods to properly and economically harvest, transport, and store the pods.
Toxicological analyses of seeds to determine edibility.
Use in intercropping. (Although trials have begun, the overall potential isn't well documented yet.)
Methods of pollination.
Effect on soil fertility (amounts of nitrogen fixed).
Food science and processing of the pods.
Botanical Name As noted, several species occur in the Andes. The main ones, however, are Inga feuillei de Candolle (used since pre-Columbian times) and its widespread relative, I. edulis von Martius.
Family Leguminosae (Mimosoideae)
Quechua: pa'qay, paccai (Cuzco)
Spanish: pacay, pacae, pacay de Perú, guama, guamo
English: ice-cream beans, food inga
French: pois sucre
Portuguese: ingá cipó, rabo de mico
Origin. It seems likely that pacay (Inga feuillei) originated on the eastern slope of the Andes, and, like other fruit crops of that area, was introduced to coastal Peru. That must have happened long ago, because the use of these fruits in the mountains and on the coast is ancient. Inga pods are portrayed on pre-Columbian pottery, and their pods and seeds have been found in tombs dating back to about 1000 B.C.
Description. Inga species are usually small trees, normally less than 15 m, although some of them can reach up to 40 m. They can be either evergreen or deciduous. The simply pinnate, dark-green leaves have large, oval leaflets in pairs without a terminal one. Many species have a green wing (rachis) between each pair of leaves. There is a nectary (small pit containing nectar) between each pair of leaves. Ants frequent these nectaries and probably play an important role in protecting the trees from insect pests such as aphids.