Rich in protein, Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is an important oilseed and food crop. It is central to the financial and nutritional well-being of hundreds of millions of farmers and consumers across the semi-arid tropics.
Nutrition experts point out that groundnut provides over 30 essential nutrients and is an excellent source of niacin, fiber and vitamin E. Rich in anti-oxidants, the crop is naturally free of transfats and contains about 25% protein, a higher proportion than any other true nut. In addition to protein, groundnuts are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and boron.
China and India are the leading producers worldwide. Groundnut is also important in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 40% of the world’s area sown to the crop but only 25% of total production due to low yields (950 kg/ha versus 1.8 t/ha in Asia).
The main constraints hampering higher yields and quality in Africa are intermittent drought due to erratic rainfall patterns and terminal drought during maturation. A drought-related quality issue is pre-harvest contamination of seeds with aflatoxin, a carcinogenic mycotoxin produced primarily by the fungus Aspergillus flavus, which restricts African groundnuts from being sold into export markets. Major foliar fungus diseases such as early and late leaf spots and rust; and virus diseases like rosette, peanut clump and bud necrosis cause large yield losses.