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, Sudan and the US are the top global producers of groundnuts (Statista, 2021).


Further reference:


South Africa: imports and exports

  • In the 2020/21 marketing year South Africa imported 30 335 tons and exported 7 697 tons (SAGIS, 2021). The 2020/21 season saw most of our imports coming from Argentina (61%) and Brazil (27.5%). Other imports came from Zambia, India, Malawi, the United Arab Emirates and Tanzania (SAGIS, 2021).
  • South Africa exported to the Netherlands (34.4%), Japan (30.8%) and Mozambique (21%). Other exports went to Belgium, Zambia and New Zealand (SAGIS, 2021).
  • 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.

Local business environment

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. South Africa consumed 60 809 tons in 2020/21, 56 250 in 2019/20 (SAGIS, 2021). Most of this is consumed as peanuts and peanut butter, with the remainder being used for 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.

Further reference:


The Southern African Grain Laboratory

Commercial farmer points of interest

Aspects of Critical Importance concerning Groundnut Production

  • Groundnuts should 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 should be thoroughly treated. Under irrigation conditions, attention should be paid regularly to this.
Source: [now defunct] and Dr Jan Dreyer


Consult a piece “written by a retired farmer”, GROUNDNUTS – tips and tricks to remember during the growing season on the Grain SA website.

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 Find the notes on Grain SA in the general “Grain & Oilseeds” article.
  • South African Grain Information Service (SAGIS) Statistics (e.g. crop estimates, export/import etc) may be found on the website. Also available here are Groundnut Forum presentations.
  • Oilseeds Advisory Committee
  • South African Cereals and Oilseeds Trade Association (SACOTA)
  • 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) 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.
  • Oil and Protein Seeds Development Trust 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





For a full list of seed suppliers, visit

Websites and publications

Visit the websites and references mentioned earlier on this page like

  • Publication available from ARC-Grain Crops: (i) Production of groundnuts (“Groundnuts always tops”) (ii) Produksie van Grondbone (“Grondbone – altyd ‘n wenner”) (iii) Groundnut production: a concise guide (iv) Groundnut diseases and pests / Grondboonsiektes en -plae. Visit  or call 018 299 6100.
  • CD Roms from the ARC-PPR (Plant Protection Research) include: (i) Crop Pests, Vol. 4: Field Crops and Pastures Pastures  (ii) Medically Important Spiders And Scorpions Of Southern Africa. Write to booksales [at] or infopri [at]
  • Call 012 842 4017 or send an email to stoltze [at] for the following publications, available from the ARC Agricultural Engineering: (i) Agro-processing of Olives and Legumes (green peas, green beans, cowpeas, lentils, olives, peanuts, mushrooms) (ii) The manufacturing of peanut butter.
  • The SADC Secretariat and German Development Corporation‘s Profiling of the Regional Agro-Processing Value Chains in the SADC Region (March 2019) includes a look at groundnuts.
  • Find the latest annual Groundnut Market Value Chain Profile from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) at (on the Directorate Marketing web pages). There are also grower notes under the options “Infopak” – see “Groundnuts, “Cultivation of groundnuts – and “Brochures”, the Production guidelines: Groundnuts.
  • Food Safety Requirements for the local and international marketing of groundnuts is obtainable from the SA Groundnut Forum. Call 011 234 3400/1.
  • Consult the AgriSETA Learner Guide Primary Agriculture “Harvesting agricultural crops”.


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