Groundnuts (peanuts) are a high value crop that can be marketed with little processing but are extremely versatile and can be used in a wide range of products.

The oil made from them can be used for cooking and they can be used to make peanut butter. Oil extracted from the groundnut can also be used as raw material for manufacturing of soap; massage oil for polio patients; body, shaving and hair creams; and fluid diet which is used to physically strengthen patients and to sharpen their appetites before and after operations.

The oil cake which is by-product of oil extraction process is used to make glue for wood; animal feed; fertilisers and antibiotics.

Sources: The Groundnut Market Value Chain Profile at 

International business environment


China, India, Nigeria, the USA and Sudan are the world’s top groundnut producers.



Further reference:

The National Peanut Board (USA) and Agricultural Marketing Resource Centre (AgMRC) websites contain helpful information about groundnuts. Visit and respectively.


South Africa: imports and exports

  • In the 2018/19 season (February 2019), nearly 62% of the groundnuts South Africa imported came from Argentina, followed by Brazil (12.8%), China (7.9%) and Zambia (8.9%) (SAGIS, 2019).
  • South African exports of groundnuts went to Mozambique (33.6%), Japan (33.1%), Switzerland (11.6%) and Belgium (10.6%) (SAGIS, 2019).
  • Phytosanitary requirements and quality standards must be adhered to and a Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) certificate must also be obtained for groundnuts to be exported.
  • The import tariff for groundnuts is 10% of the fob price.

Local business environment

The South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS), a not-for-profit company funded by, amongst others, the oilseeds industry, performs the information function. Statistics (e.g. crop estimates, export/import etc) may be found on the South African Grain Information Service website – Find the most recent Groundnut Forum presentation under “Presentations”. Find the Grading Regulations for groundnuts and requirements for grain exports at

In South Africa groundnuts are traded for three main functions: for edible peanuts and peanut butter, for oil and oilcake, and for seed. Edible peanut consumption has been decreasing over time, while the market for peanut butter has remained steady. The local consumption requirements for groundnuts are around 63 000 tons per year. Of this, around 37% is consumed as peanuts. The rest is processed into peanut butter, oil and other products.

Groundnut production has been on the decline since the mid-1980s. Reasons include higher labour costs (this is a labour intensive crop) and slow seed-breeding developments. The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) has suggested that in terms of cultivar development, this country has been left behind by a number of major groundnut exporting countries.

Groundnuts are mainly produced in the north-western regions of South Africa, namely the western and north-western Free State, Northern Cape and the North West Province. Groundnuts are also produced in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal but production is lower in these provinces.

The domestic price is more or less on a par with the international price and is not influenced much by the size of the local crop.

The relative prices of other grain products, the exchange rate, availability of seed, availability and landed cost of imported crude oil, as well as plantings of other field crops mainly determine market prospects for the oilseed industry (which includes groundnuts). Oilseeds have an indirect impact on industries in which balanced feeds constitute a major input cost. The animal feed chain tends to link oilseeds with the costs of dairy products, beef, mutton, pork, broiler chickens and eggs.

The groundnut marketing season in South Africa commences on 1 March and ends on 28 February the following year.

In terms of growth in gross value of production (2013-2017) and share of total agricultural production value (2013-2017), DAFF (2018) placed groundnuts in the top 10 agricultural products.

See the monthly bulletins and latest Groundnut Forum presentations at for updated information.

Commercial farmer points of interest

Aspects of Critical Importance concerning Groundnut Production

  • Groundnuts may not be planted more than once in three years on the same land.
  • Soil moisture is critical. Do not plant in dry soil. Ground which has built up soil moisture will diminish risks.
  • Weed control is important: weeds hamper the cultivation process and use up valuable soil moisture.
  • Quality seed is a priority. After treating the seed, plant slowly and shallowly (30mm – 50mm)
  • Avoid planting in cold soil.
  • Remember that most cultivars require 150 days to yield a respectable crop: do not plant too late.
  • 18 kg Nitrogen (N) per hectare for dryland growing and 50kg N/ha for irrigation are recommended if your soil needs nitrogen.
  • Calcium is important for the formation of the pods. Areas where the calcium content is lower than 300 mg/kg, must be fertilised with calcium.
  • When fertilising, do not place fertiliser in the pod zone. Administer fertiliser widely or place it under the kernel.
  • Given the high value of groundnut hay and the potential drop in kernel quality and yield, leaf spot must be thoroughly treated. Under irrigation conditions, attention must be paid regularly to this.
  • When groundnuts are planted in soil where no groundnuts had been planted for more than eight years, the seed must be inoculated with the correct Rhizobium bacteria. The seed must then be further treated with Thiulin or TMTD against fungal diseases. Groundnuts that are not inoculated can be treated with Ifax.
  • Beware of Atrasine damage resulting from previous administrations.
  • Be prepared for windy conditions.
Source: and Dr Jan Dreyer

For the newcomer

Find the grower notes mentioned under the “Websites and publications” heading on this page.

  • Groundnuts are rich in protein and can be eaten raw, cooked or roasted.
  • Some types are cultivated under drier conditions, while others are irrigated.
  • Groundnuts are more drought-resistant than maize and can be grown for home consumption or as a cash crop. They work well as a rotational crop and should be planted on the same soil once every four years.

You can market groundnuts in shelled or unshelled form, either on formal or informal markets. Formal markets need larger quantities.

Role Players


For a complete list of members of the SA Groundnut Forum, contact Mr G Keun at telephone number 011 234 3400.



  • Grain SA Tel: 0860 047 246 Find the notes on Grain SA in the general “Grain & Oilseeds” article.
  • South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) Tel: 012 941 2050 See the notes about SAGIS in the general “Grain & Oilseeds” article.
  • Oilseeds Advisory Committee Tel: 011 234 3400
  • South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA) Tel: 012 663 9097
  • South African Groundnut Forum Tel: 011 234 3400


Training and research

  • The Agricultural Colleges do short course training on groundnut production and groundnut processing. Madzivhandila College, for example, offers a course in peanut butter making. Find contact details on the “Agricultural education and training” page.
  • ARC-Grain Crops (ARC-GC) Tel: 018 299 6100 A short course on groundnut production can be given on demand.
  • Grain SA also offers emerging farmers a week long introduction training course on producing groundnuts. Find details on the “Emerging farmer support” page.
  • NOSA Agricultural Services Tel: 087 286 9298 Training and/or training materials available.
  • Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust Tel: 011 234 3400 The Oil and Protein Seed Development Trust provides funding for research on sunflowers, soybeans and groundnuts that is in the interest of producers, processors and consumers.
  • Protein Research Foundation Tel: 011 803 2579





For a full list of seed suppliers, visit

Websites and publications

Visit the websites mentioned earlier in this chapter like

Share this article

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search