Groundnut is an oilseed derived from the fruit of the groundnut plant. It is referred to as a nut in general terms but it is not a nut exactly in actual terms, it is a seed rather and is also known by the name of peanut. The groundnut plant is an annual plant herb that comes from the pea family of Fabaceae. The plant has feather type leaves; yellow flowers and grows a legume shaped fruit that has 2 to 3 seeds which develops inside the earth. Also, oil is obtained from the groundnut seeds that is an excellent source of vitamin E, various fatty acids and carbohydrates and is largely used as a cooking medium, lighting fuel and food constituent. Peanuts are known by many other local names such as earthnuts, ground nuts, goober peas, monkey nuts, pygmy nuts and pig nuts. Despite its name and appearance, the peanut is not a nut, but rather a legume. History| |
The groundnut plant is believed to have originated in the South American continent, primarily in the tropical areas of Peru as the archeological records assume. Because the edible seeds of this annual legume plant start above ground but mature underground, peanuts are also known as ground peas or groundnuts. The climate there helped the plant to grow and develop as a wild plant. But no evidence has been found out regarding the confirmation of the above assumption. But the domestication of this plant was done in the valleys of Paraguay only. Groundnut was being cultivated in the new world countries since 2500BC and this was the place where a diversity of the species of groundnut was cultivated. When Columbus found America, groundnut came in to the contact of the rest of the world. The Spaniards who explored the southern America encountered with this nut like seed and soon after, the different varieties of groundnut started to get spread around the world. A type of variety named ‘Virginia’ was taken to Mexico first and then to West Africa. Then it moved to the North America courtesy the West Indies and West Africa in the 17th century. The Peruvian variety was taken to the southeastern Asian regions of China and Philippines by the Spanish ships and ultimately these foreign beans spread all over Asia. The Spanish variety was taken into Africa directly by the Portuguese explorers and there it got mixed with the Virginia variety and was finally introduced into Spain in the 18th century. The latest groundnut variety i.e. Valencia was taken to the country of Spain from Argentina in the 19th century and then it spread over all the Europe later. In the United States, peanuts were considered a regional food of the South until after the Civil War, when technological advancements resulted in an increased demand for peanut oil, peanut butter, roasted and salted peanuts, and confections. In addition, George Washington Carver has been credited with identifying numerous manufactured nonfood uses for the peanut and plant parts and encouraging plantings of peanuts as a rotational crop for cotton production, thereby expanding acreage in the early 1900s (Phillips; Virginia-Carolina Peanut Promotions; American Peanut Council).
Groundnut plant is a tropical plantation, as it requires a hot and humid climate to grow. The basic factor that affects the performance of the crop is rain or extent of irrigation. It is an essential for a good yield of groundnut to have high level of rainfall. Groundnut prospers well in a light, sandy loam soil. The pod needs duration of 4-5 months to ripen. The time at which the crop is to be harvested also requires proper attention. The groundnut fruits are to be harvested exactly when they started to get ripe and not anytime else. At the time of harvesting, the whole plant, even the roots are totally removed from the soil.The planting season in India starts from May and stays till August. It largely depends on the time of the arrival of monsoon in the...