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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Varieties of groundnut | Groundnut producing countries | Indian groundnut market | Major trading centers

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.


Groundnut is considered to be the one of the most important oilseed crops in the world. It is grown in over 100 countries of the world and plays a crucial role in the world economy. The seeds are a good source of edible oil and proteins present in the groundnut oil cake. The percentage of oil and protein are extracted from the seed are approximately 55% and 28% respectively. The oil cake meal left after the extraction of the oil is used as an animal fodder and fertilizer. The peanut oil is primarily needed as a cooking agent but it also has some industrial uses like in paint, varnish, lubricating oil, soap, furniture polish etc. the peanut seeds are also consumed directly in roasted form, as butter, in brittle and candies etc.

Groundnut production has reached the mark of around 34 million tons. China followed by India is the largest producer of this oilseed crop in the world. The groundnut oil production hovers around 8 million tons annually. These two countries are also responsible for the highest consumption of groundnut. The list depicting the major groundnut consuming countries is given below

  • China

  • India

  • Nigeria

  • United States

  • European Union

Except European Union, all the countries lie in the list of major groundnut producing countries as well. European Union countries are the largest consumer of groundnuts where the crop is not produced. The major demand i.e. around 75% comes from the food sector and the rest from other sectors.

As European union is the largest consumer of the oilseed where it is not produced, it has to rely on imports and that makes the countries in the union the largest importers of groundnut. The trade done in the world in the context of groundnuts is estimated to about 1 lakh tons per year. The leading groundnut exporting countries are

  • Argentina

  • Senegal

  • Nigeria

  • India

  • United States

  • China

  • Vietnam

  • South Africa

  • Gambia

The countries mentioned above contribute to about 90% of the world exports. Argentina makes the largest groundnut exporter to the world. The major countries that satisfy their domestic consumption demand by importing groundnuts are

  • Belgium

  • France

  • Germany

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Netherlands

  • United States

  • United Kingdom

  • Sweden

  • Indonesia

  • Canada

  • Malaysia

  • Singapore

  • Philippines

  • Japan


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. 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.

Cultivation pattern

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 country. The harvesting season starts from September to January. In India, 2/3rds of the crop is cultivated as a khariff crop and the rest is produced as rabi crop.

Varieties of groundnut

There are vast varieties of groundnut that are grown in the world. but the most popular varieties are mentioned below. All these varieties have different backgrounds, different characteristics and various other features that differentiate them from each other

  1. Spanish group –

  • Small seeded

  • Mostly cultivated in South Africa and southeastern and southwestern America

  • Includes - Dixie Spanish, Improved Spanish 2B, GFA Spanish, Argentine, Spantex, Spanette, Shaffers Spanish, Natal Common (Spanish), White Kernel Varieties, Starr, Comet, Florispan, Spanhoma, Spancross and Wilco I.

  1. Runner group –

  • Better flavor, better roasting characteristics and higher yield

  • Grown in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina

  • Includes - Southeastern Runner 56-15, Dixie Runner, Early Runner, Virginia Bunch 67, Bradford Runner, Egyptian Giant, Rhodesian Spanish Bunch, North Carolina Runner 56-15, Florunner and Shulamit.

  1. Virgina group –

  • Large seeded, high quality

  • Found in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia

  • Includes - NC 7, NC 9, NC 10C, NC-V 11, VA 93B, NC 12C, VA-C 92R, Gregory, VA 98R, Perry, Wilson, Georgia Green

  1. Valencia group –

  • Coarse, reddish stem and large foliage

  • Largely cultivated in New Mexico

  1. Tennessee red and tennessee white – 

  • same as Valencia group except the color of the seed. Rough pods, irregular pods and having a small number of kernels.

Groundnut producing countries

Groundnut is one of the vastly produced oilseed crop in the world as it is cultivated in more than 100 countries in the world and that is why it is referred to as a universal crop. The areas in the tropical belt of the earth enjoy the major share in this groundnut crop production as these type of weather conditions suit well to it. It is estimated that around 65% of the crop produced in the world is crushed to extract groundnut oil and the rest is used in making other edible products. The world production of groundnut seeds hovers around 34 million tons per year in the current scenario. The groundnut oil is produced to an extent of around 8 million tons. The major producers of groundnut in 2005 along with their production figures are

  • China (14408500 tons)

  • India (5900000 tons)

  • Nigeria(2937000 tons)

  • United States of America (2112700 tons)

  • Indonesia (1469000 tons)

  • Sudan (1200000 tons)

  • Senegal (820569 tons)

  • Myanmar (715000 tons)

  • Argentina (593000 tons)

  • Vietnam (453000 tons)

  • Chad (450000 tons)

  • Ghana (389649 tons)

  • Congo (368110 tons)

  • Guinea (300000 tons)

  • Brazil (291966 tons)

  • Burkina Faso (245307 tons)

  • Cameroon (225000 tons)

  • Egypt (190000 tons)

  • Mali (163900 tons)

  • Malawi (161162 tons)

In context of the production of groundnut oil, China again tops the chart with a production of around 2.5 million tons India following with the production of around 2 million tons. The other regions where groundnut oil is produced includes sub-Saharan African countries and central and southern America. The maximum area that is used for the production of this oilseed is bagged by India with around 8 million hectares that accounts up to 30% share in the total area of around 26.5 million hectares. The country that gets maximum yield from the groundnut crop is USA which has a yield of of approximately 3540 Kg/ hectare. The world production has been in the up trend since last decade and still, it is rising steadily.

Production of groundnut in India

India has been producing groundnut since it has been introduced in Asia in the 16th century. The weather in the Indian subcontinent suited well to the crop and India transformed into an important contributor to the world production. The country ranks 2nd in the world groundnut production scenario with an annual groundnut seed production of 5.9 million tons and annual groundnut oil production of 1.5 million tons in 2005. Also, India has the maximum area covered under groundnut cultivation. The major states in India that are indulged in the production of this crop along with their production figures are

  • Gujarat (2.5 million tons)

  • Tamil Nadu (1 million tons)

  • Andhra Pradesh (1 million tons)

  • Karnataka (0.5 million tons)

  • Maharashtra (0.5 million tons)

  • Madhya Pradesh

  • Orissa

  • Rajasthan

The Indian production and area covered is largely concentrated in the above-mentioned states. Today, groundnut has a share of approximately 25% in the total Indian oilseed production. But this share is constantly reducing since India got independent, as it was around 70% in 1950s.

Indian groundnut market

India has been a land where oilseeds have much importance than any other crop. Groundnut constitutes one of the major oilseed in India. As already mentioned, it accounts to about 25% share in the total oilseeds production in India. The country produces around 6 million tons of groundnuts annually; Gujarat being the leader in the production of the crop producing over 40% of the crop produced India. The groundnut oil production in India hovers around 1.5 million tons per year. The production of groundnut seed in the country has shown fluctuations quite often largely due to the monsoon behavior. India places 2nd in the world groundnut consumption list. The country actually consumes all most all of its groundnut yield produced that is around 30% of the world’s total consumption. The main demand of groundnut and derivatives generate from the western and southern parts of the country.

This consumption pattern of the country contracts the Indian groundnut export size and does not allow it to gain dominance over the world market even though a high production level. Earlier it was an important exporter of groundnut and its by-products in 1970s. But with time it lost all its importance due to its high prices and increasing competitiveness.  The Indian exports of groundnut oil to the world showed a fluctuating trend in the last decade. In 2003-04 India exported around 1 lakh tons of groundnut oil due to a crop failure in Argentina and Senegal. The imports in the country are second to none as the production level is quite sufficient for the domestic demand level in the country.

Market Influencing Factors

  • Weather conditions in major groundnut producing regions.

  • Monsoon status in the country.

  • Price fluctuations of the other competitive edible oils.

  • International price movements.

  • High consumption in festive seasons and celebrations.

Major trading centers of groundnut

The major trading centers of groundnut and derivatives in India are

  • Rajkot (Gujarat)

  • Ahmedabad (Gujarat)

  • Gondal (Gujarat)

  • Junagarh (Gujarat)

  • Mumbai (Maharashtra)

  • Indore (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Delhi

  • Adoni (Andhra Pradesh)

Also, groundnut is traded in Indian commodity exchanges namely, National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange ltd, National Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd, Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd, The Rajkot Seeds oil & Bullion Merchants` Association Ltd and The Bombay Commodity Exchange ltd.


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