Groundnut, also known as the peanut is an oilseed-a seed cultivated mainly to produce edible cooking oils. Its scientific name is ‘Arachis hypogea’ and belongs to the family ‘Fabaceae’.
Groundnut is mainly used to make oil and to manufacture food products like peanut butter, desserts, confectionery, cakes, snacks, sauces, etc. It is also consumed in raw, roasted and boiled forms. Groundnuts contain 45 to 55% of oil, and the oil cake which is left after the extraction of oil is used as animal feeds and fertilizers.
Groundnuts are believed to have originated from South and Southern North American regions and based on certain archaeological evidence, groundnuts were largely cultivated as early as 3750 – 3900 years ago. However, today groundnuts are cultivated almost in all the continents and everywhere in the world.
Groundnut is an annual plant- a plant that completes its life span from germination to bearing seeds within a single growing season and then dies. The plants take 4 to 5 months to complete the growth and produce mature seeds. And they grow 30-45 cm in length either in straight and upward form or in spreading form with branches lying close to the soil. The seeds, as the name mentions are found underground, covered in pods that normally contain 2 nuts or sometimes 3 to 4 nuts.
Well-drained clay loam or sandy loam soils are the best types of soils that are ideal for groundnut cultivation, and a warm climate also is required for the plants’ proper growth that can be stunted by cold and frosty climates.
Normally, groundnuts are sown in June and harvested from October to November. Groundnuts are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, folate, magnesium, sodium, iron, copper, zinc and vitamins E and B.
China is the largest producer and consumer of groundnut in the world. Other major producers are India, Nigeria and the US. The largest exporter of groundnut is India, followed by the United States, Argentina, China and Brazil, while the largest importer is the Netherlands followed by China, Indonesia and Mexico.
In India, the largest producer of groundnut is Gujarat which contributes up to 40% to the total production in the country. Other major producers are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Some of the main Indian varieties of groundnut are Bold or Runner, Java or Spanish and Red Natal.
Some of the major trading hubs of groundnut in India:
Gujarat(Jamnagar, Rajkot, Vadodara, Surat)
Andhra Pradesh(Guntur, Ananthapur, Kurnool, Nizamabad)
Tamil Nadu(Erode, Madurai, Salem, Dindigul)
Karnataka(Bangalore, Bellary, Koppal, Kolar)
Names of groundnut in different Indian languages: