Groundnut or Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is a major crop grown in the arid and semi-arid zone of Nigeria. It is either grown for its nut, oil or its vegetative residue (haulms). Recently, the use of groundnut meal is becoming more recognized not only as a dietary supplement for children on protein poor cereals-based diets but also as effective treatment for children with protein related malnutrition.
It is the 13th most important food crop of the world and the 4th most important source of edible oil. Its seeds contain high quality edible oil (50%), easily digestible protein (25%) and carbohydrates (20%) (FAO, 1994).
The crop is mainly grown in the northern part of Nigeria; over 85% of the groundnuts produced in the country were accounted for by Kano, Kaduna, Taraba, Bauchi, Bornu, and Adamawa states (Abal and Harkness, 1978)
Peanut sauce, prepared with onions, garlic, peanut butter/paste, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower, can be vegetarian (the peanuts supplying ample protein) or prepared with meat, usually chicken.
Peanuts are used in the Mali meat stew “maafe”. In Ghana, peanut butter is used for peanut butter soup nkate nkwan. Crushed peanuts may also be used for peanut candies nkate cake and kuli-kuli, as well as other local foods such as oto. Peanut butter is also an ingredient in Nigeria’s “African salad”. Peanut powder is an important ingredient in the spicy coating for kebabs in Nigeria and Ghana.
Peanuts are also used in a wide variety of other areas, such as
· Biodiesel fuel
· Peanut laxatives
· Peanut dye
· Peanut shampoo
· Peanut insecticide
· Peanut explosives
· Peanut glue
Groundnut is grown in a well-drained sandy loam, or sandy clay loam soil. Deep well drained soil with high fertility. An optimum soil temperature for good germination is 30oC. it is usually grown in rotation with cereals as it help in efficient nutrient utilization and reduces soil borne diseases.
Land preparation should ensure that all crop residues and weeds are completely buried; ploughing and harrowing are also carried out to make a seed bed of fine tilth for proper germination and growth of crops. It could be sown on ridge or on flat. The recommended spacing for groundnut is 75 cm between the rows and 25 cm between the plants within the rows. Fertilizer can be applied at the rate of 54 kg/ha P2 O5 and 25 kg/ha K2O for good crop production; and can be applied before or immediately after planting.
Planting should be done as soon as possible after the onset of the rains. Early planting is recommended to avoid rosette attack.
Pest and diseases
The major pests attacking groundnut include: groundnut borer, red flour beetle, almond moth, termite, white grub, jassid, aphid, tobacco caterpillar etc.
There are a number of diseases that affect the crop some of which include: groundnut rosette, groundnut streak, bacteria wilt, anthracnose, fusarium wilt, pod rot etc.
Groundnut rosette disease is one of the most destructive diseases of groundnut in sub-Saharan Africa, which is transmitted by Aphids, although rosette epidemics are sporadic, yield losses approach 100% whenever the disease occurs in epidemic proportions. For example, an epidemic in northern Nigeria destroyed approximately 0.75 million hectares of groundnut with an estimated loss of US$250 million in regional trade (Yayock et al. 1976).
However, significant research has since develop preventive and control measures to ensure good production and sustained yield. Leading to the development of 23 new varieties, which were released in 2011; some of which are resistance to rosette and drought-resistant.
Harvesting usually consists of a series of operations comprising digging, lifting, windrowing, stocking and threshing. Some of these tasks can be combined or eliminated depending on the system applied. Among the field operations concerned with groundnut cultivation, harvesting is the most laborious and costly endeavor. Harvesting should be done when the crop reached physiological maturity i.e., when a few leaves turned brown and the inner ribs of the groundnut were a pronounced brown in color. All the pods are recovered when pulled out of the soil.
Harvesting may sometimes become a problem especially when the crop has passed the stage of full maturity and the soil has hardened. An appreciable number of pods could be lost if not meticulously carried out; which make the harvest labor intensive.
Inconsistencies in government policies as regards production, transportation and marketing of groundnut in Nigeria, which the government was actively involve before the disappearance of the groundnut pyramid of the North, has been identified as the major setback over the years for the crop which shows much prospect for development of the economy; as does in the past.
After cleaning and grading, the dried pod could be stored in bags and stacked up to 10 bags high in separated stacks to allow air circulation among them. The bags should be piled on wooden planks to avoid damage from dampness.
Nigeria is one of the countries of the world with a variety of oil seeds notably groundnut, oil palm, soybean and cotton seeds. Vegetable oils are used principally for food (mostly as shortening, margarines, and salad and cooking oils) and in the manufacture of soap and other products.
Groundnut is by far the most nutritive oil-seed used in West Africa. The kernels have an average fat and protein content of 75% and an energy value of 360 kcal/100g, compared to 60% and 430 kcal/100 g for soybeans.
In Nigeria, Groundnut provides high quality cooking oil and is an important source of protein for both human and animal diet and also provides much needed foreign exchange by exporting kernels and cake (Nautiyal, 1999). As population continues to grow the demand for edible oil in many developing countries such as Nigeria will also continue to grow. Groundnut will continue to be important in satisfying this growing demand because it is adaptable to a wide range of environments from sandy soils of the Sahel to favorable irrigated areas.
Nigeria is the fourth largest producer in the world and the highest producer in Africa with 1.55 million metric tons.
Peanuts grow best in light, sandy loam soil. They require five months of warm weather, and an annual rainfall of 500 to 1,000 mm (20 to 39 in) or the equivalent in irrigation water.
The pods ripen 120 to 150 days after the seeds are planted. If the crop is harvested too early, the pods will be unripe. If they are harvested late, the pods will snap off at the stalk, and will remain in the soil.
They need an acidic soil to grow preferably with 5.9-7 PH.
In tropical Africa, average yield of groundnut range from 300-1000kg/ha; with god management practice and proper disease control yields up to 5tones/ha can be achieved.
Over half of the groundnut harvested worldwide is crushed for oil and a substantial quantity of groundnut produced in developing countries is traded in domestic markets. International trade of groundnuts is mainly in the form of in shell (pods), shelled (kernels) and meal (cake). A large trade of confectionery groundnut is also booming in the international market.
Groundnut oil has traditionally been a significant dietary component in several countries in Western Africa. In some countries like Nigeria, Gambia and Senegal, oil extraction has been important rural cottage industry for many years. Industrial processing of oil from groundnuts exists in many countries like, India, Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria and Gambia. Oil extraction at the village level is still quite common throughout the developing countries
 FAO, 1994. Expert’s recommendations on fats and oils in human nutrition. The article is adapted from the first chapter of fats and oils in human nutrition: report of joint expert consultation, FAO Food and Nutrition Paper No. 57
 Abalu, G.O.I and Harkness, C. (1979). “Traditional verses improved Groundnut production in Northern Nigeria” (Expt. Agric. Vol 15(1) pp 85- 90)
 Yayock, J.Y., H.W. Rossel, and C. Harkness. 1976. A review of the 1975 groundnut rosette epidemic in Nigeria. Samaru Conference Paper 9. Institute for Agricultural Research (Samaru).
 Nautiyal, P.C., 1999. Groundnut: Post harvest operation. National Research Centre for Groundnut, pp: 46. http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/inpho/docs/Post_Harvest_Compendium_-_Groundnut.pdf.
 Jauron, Richard (1997-02-05). “Growing Peanuts in the Home Garden | Horticulture and Home Pest News”. Ipm.iastate.edu. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
 “How peanuts are Grown – Harvesting – PCA”. Peanut Company of Australia. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
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