Groundnut is a regularly consumed crop in Nigeria. During its peak period (raining season) farmers make a lot of money trading it. Groundnut is a dual purpose crop, it is cultivated as an oil crop as well as protein, pulse or leguminous crop. Groundnut is usually grown for its oil. The seeds which are called nuts contains about 40-45% oil, 30% protein and 18% carbohydrate. Groundnuts are also used for industrial products such as groundnut cake, groundnut oil, and groundnut butter.
BENEFITS OF GROUNDNUT FARMING IN NIGERIA
Source of food: Groundnut can be used for food
Source of Income: Groundnut can be traded in the market in return for money. Industrial products such as groundnut cake, groundnut oil, and groundnut butter can be gotten from groundnut. So lots of money can be made by farmers who engage in this trade.
Source of Employment: Unemployed youths in Nigeria can engage in this trade and make lots of money from it.
GROUNDNUT FARMING IN NIGERIA
Land Preparation: The land can be cleared manually with cutlass and ridging made with hoes and also mechanically by ploughing, harrowing and riding.
Varieties/Cultivars: Bunch or erect type, creeping type, kano local, kano 50 and castle cary.
Climatic requirement: The crop requires a temperature of 25◦C – 30◦C, rainfall of 70-100cm per annum.
Soil requirement: The crop requires a coarse texture sandy-loamy soil, which is slightly acidic to neutral, that is, PH range of 5-7. The soil should be rich in calcium and phosphorous which are needed for pod formation.
Planting: The seeds are planted from March-April in the south and May/June in the North. 30-35kg/ha or two to three seeds per hole which should be 4cm deep. Spacing depends on the varieties, for bunch type spacing requirements is 60cm by 15cm and for creeping type 40-60cm by 20cm.
Weeding: Weeding should be done at regular intervals with a hoe before flowering. This should stop immediately when the flowers appear. It enables the pod to get into the soil properly. The stem may be pressed down during flowering for better fruiting.
Application of fertilization: Groundnut does not really need fertilizers except on poor soil.
Maturity Period: It matures between four to six months.
Harvesting: Harvesting is done when the lower leaves turn brown and begin to fall. Harvesting can be done by pulling the plants up by hand. The nuts are then picked up from the plant root and stem. Harvest 120-150 days after planting, depending on the variety. Harvesting can be done manually or mechanically by uprooting the plants and allowing them to dry for easy removal of the pods.
Processing and storage: Harvested nuts are dried properly. The seeds are removed from the shells by pounding them slightly in mortars or by beating them with sticks. Small shelling or decorticating machine can be used to remove the seed from the pod. Dried can be stored in silos or rhombus. The unshelled pods are stored in sacks while the shell nuts are stored in bags. The shell nuts are treated with insecticides before storage.