Groundnuts are a popular source of food throughout the world, including South Africa. In many countries groundnuts are consumed as peanut butter or crushed and used for the groundnut oil or simply consumed as a confectionary snack roasted, salted or in sweets. In other parts of the world they are boiled, either in the shell or unshelled.
Groundnuts are produced in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, on sandy soils. The production practices vary from highly sophisticated commercial ventures in the western world to more traditional cropping practices in third world countries. Yields vary from about 400 kilograms to several tonnes per hectare depending on production system and production area. In South Africa, groundnuts are grown in the summer rainfall regions under irrigated or rainfed conditions.
Resource limited farmers, especially in the northern and eastern parts of South Africa grow groundnuts mainly for own consumption. Groundnuts are an important source of nutrition in the northern KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga areas. The crop can also contribute to more viable and sustainable cropping systems in other parts of the country. It is expected to become more important for the following reasons: It is an excellent rotation crop which can replace maize as a monoculture crop since it enriches the soil with nitrogen. Secondly it is a crop with high economic value which can fetch a high price on local markets. Groundnut production requires more management skills than many other crops. Successful farmers are those who apply the prescribed management practices throughout the production process.