By M. Shafique Ahmed
GROUNDNUT or peanut is one of the important ‘kharif’ oilseed
crops. It has an oil content of 50 per cent as compared to
40 per cent of sunflower, 20 per cent of soyabean and 50 per
cent of sesame crop.
plant grows low, spreads and then prostrates. Some erect
types grow to a height of one foot. It produces yellow
flowers and a convoluted pod with 3-4 edible seeds in each
chamber of its underground pod. These are long, cylindrical
and swell over the seed which is valued as a raw material
for hydrogenated oil industry.
The ‘crunchy nut’ is eaten fondly after roasting it by
children and grown-ups as a dry-fruit throughout the year.
But its demand increases in winter, when every one likes to
Peanut is now grown in more than 40 countries but its main
producers are, China, the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Mayanmar
(old Burma), India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan.
In Pakistan, it is cultivated mainly in rain-fed (barani
areas) of Punjab and also in irrigated areas of the NWFP and
Climate/soils: Groundnut is a warm season crop and the plant
requires ample water, especially at its fruiting time. It
does well in fairly rich, open, and sandy soils with good
drainage for development of underground pods. It is a heavy
feeder of calcium and a pH of 6.0 of 6.0 to 6.5 is most
suited for its cultivation.
Production: The main peanut producing districts in Punjab
are, Attock, Chakwal, Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar and
Bhawalnagar. In the NWFP, it is produced in Seabi, Kohat and
Khurran districts. In Sindh, Khairpur, Ghotki, Sukkur, and
Sanghar districts are its main producers. Province-wise, the
area and production during the year 2000-01 to 2003-04 for
the irrigated and un-irrigated areas is as follows: Area in
‘000’ hectares Source: Agricultural Statistics of Pakistan
(2000-01 to 2002-03).
The area and production in Punjab is bigger because crop is
cultivated both in ‘barani’ (rain-fed) and irrigated areas.
Locally developed and exotic varieties are cultivated in
both of the areas with a further potential in production.
The number of varieties under cultivation in NWFP and Sindh
is limited and there is a need for developing of new
varieties. The yield per hectare in Sindh during the years
1989-70 and 1990-91 was quite higher. Areas in Thatta, Badin
and Hyderabad could further be explored for peanut
cultivation. Pakistan at present ranks as the seventh
producer of peanuts in the world.
Chemical composition: The chemical composition of groundnut
is energy (Kj/100g) 240, water 5, carbohydrates 18, protein
28. The kernel (seed) is a rich source of vitamin A, B and
members of B2 group and iron.
Uses: Groundnut has a variety of uses. It is primarily grown
for its high oil content for making cooking oil. Seedcake,
after extraction of oil is fed to livestock because of its
residual protein value and is also used as manure. The
deodorised and decolourised oil is used to make ‘margarine’
(a food like butter). The nutty nut is used in preparing
vegetable dishes. The seed is used in bakery products.
Roasted ( in oil or hot sand ) the seed is sold in small
packets and is used in ‘nimko’ mix. It is in great demand.
Roasted ‘kernels’ are served by housewives with other dry
fruits before guests at tea time.
Peanut oil is used for making soaps, cosmetics and
lubricants. Oil emulsion are nutrient and used for softening
pharmaceutical products. Being a leguminous plant, nitrogen
is fixed by bacteria in root nodules of peanut crop. Peanut
is therefore, given a proper place in the ‘crop rotation
programmes’ to maintain soil fertility. Leaves of the plant
are fed to cattle.
In view of its great importance, the crop needs attention
for evolving its new varieties in the respective areas of