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How to grind out profit from tasty groundnuts

DR PESA
By Jennifer Anyango | October 1st 2021

Groundnut is a legume crop mainly grown in tropical environments around the world.

In Kenya, it’s mainly grown in Western Kenya by small-scale farmers.

Other than roasted peanuts, the crop can create other products for value addition, such as peanut butter and peanut soup.

The seeds are rich in oil, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins.

There are two main varieties of peanuts in Kenya - the runner type and the bunch type (red Valencia).

The bunch variety is small, tastier and is highly marketable. It matures in 60 to 75 days.

The runner variety, on the other hand, is larger and is preferred because of its high yields. It matures in 90 to 100 days.

Margaret Atieno is a small-scale farmer in Siaya County. She shares tips on peanut farming from land preparation, planting to harvesting.

Land preparation

Since it is an early-season crop, it is advisable to grow peanuts at the onset of the long rains. They grow well in warm areas, as low temperatures affect their flowering and seed formation.

Peanuts also do well if the soil is well-drained, meaning it should not retain too much water.

 Planting

Get your seeds from certified suppliers. When planting, space the seeds 30-45cm apart between rows and 15-20cm between each plant. An acre of land can accommodate about 16kg of seeds. Sow at a depth of five or six centimetres.

 Weeding

Start weeding two to three weeks after germination, preferably during the early stages of growth. It is recommended that farmers use hand weeding after the start of pegging to avoid disturbing the growing nuts or damaging the flowers.

“Using calcium-based fertiliser and not a nitrogen one is recommended. This is because groundnuts require adequate calcium, especially when pods are forming.

Phosphate fertiliser at the rate of 40kg per acre is also needed to boost the firmness of the crop,” says Ms Atieno.

Disease and pest control

Virus diseases like rust, bacteria wilt and groundnut rosette virus account for 80 per cent of crop losses at the firm level.

Others include leaf spot, crown rot and damping-off disease. To prevent them, farmers are advised to plant early and practice measures such as crop rotation, farm hygiene, certified seed usage and control pests like vector aphids.

 Harvesting

The average maturity for groundnuts is estimated at 100 days. Some, however, mature at 90 days, while others take as long as 130 days.

Farmers are advised to exercise caution when harvesting.

Also, ensure the seeds are well dried after shelling to avoid aflatoxin and other post-harvest losses, including pests and rot.

Market

Since groundnuts are widely consumed in different forms, farmers will always find a market for them. Farmers should identify the market before the produce is ready for harvest.

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