All stages of producing peanuts to trade this product 13
grain revolution on the pulses and oilseeds” for the groundnut crop. Table 26 summarizes information given in the project report on the cost, revenue and income for the cultivation of groundnut and Bajara.
Table 26. Cost of cultivation of groundnut and its competing crops (US$ ha-1).
Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Indian Agriculture in Brief (Delhi, 1983). Referred by Meenakshi et al. 1986.
Note: a. revenue includes the values of the main crop and the values of by-products. b. Cost include values of: hired labour, family labour, bullocks, machines, seed (both owned and purchased), manure and fertilizer, insecticides, pesticides, depreciation, irrigation charges, land and other taxes, interest on working capital, interest on owned capital, owned land and rent for leased land.
A lost trade
The area devoted to groundnut has fallen to low levels in Western Africa. The key to recovery is restoring farmers’ confidence that they can grow the crop without losing their harvest to a divesting disease. Kano’s “groundnut pyramids” used to be proudly pointed out to visitors. The huge piles of sacks that tapered to a point higher than most of the city’s buildings were a symbol of Northern Nigeria’s abundance in this important cash crop. Today the dusty yards where the groundnut marketing Board stocked-piled farmers’ harvest lie almost empty in Nigeria. As in other major producer countries of Western Africa, groundnut production has never recovered from the disaster that struck in 1975. An epidemic of rosette disease destroyed nearly three-quarters of a million hectares of the crop and wiped out regional trade worth estimated US$250 million. Combined with aflatoxin contamination, rosette disease is a major region why buyers turned away from Africa to other, more reliable suppliers. Transmitted by aphids, rosette disease remains a major constraint to groundnut production across Western Africa. Yield losses of 10 to 30 percent are common, but rise to 100 percent when the disease reaches epidemic proportions. Many of the farmers who suffered financial ruin in 1975 have since limited their cultivation to safer crops such as cowpea, sorghum and pearl millet.
5.2.1 Lack of suitable farm equipment and facilities
Bullock drawn seed-drills are used in most of the developing countries to sow the seed. Regulation of spacing within and between the seed rows is not perfect using this method. Still this technology will go a long way in increasing productivity. At present seeders, diggers, strippers, shellers and graders are available in the market, but most of them are power operated. The economic condition of small-scale farmers in the developing countries is so bad that they cannot afford such expensive equipment. For small landholders, power drawn equipment is not economical. Groundnut is a labour-intensive crop. New design and introduction of appropriate indigenous low-cost bullock drawn implements would increase the efficiency of operation, thereby reducing the time necessary for each operation and cost of cultivation.
The groundnut plant is unique in the world as its pods remain in the soil, absorbing calcium directly through the pod surface. Calcium in groundnut plays a major role in determining the quality of seed or kernels. Since the pods are located underground, the challenge is the absence of suitable implements for harvesting. Non-implementation of the manually or power operated tools, lack of knowledge and attitude to the production of quality produce seems to underlie other principal post-harvest problems. The curing/drying and storage facilities at the farmers’ level also contribute much to the deterioration of seed or kernel quality in storage. Under the present status of groundnut cultivation in the developing countries, equipment and methodologies are required for various harvest and post-harvest operations. For example:
- Harvesting equipment and methodologies need to be modified to lift the groundnut plants and the leftover pods in a single operation. This minimizes the harvest losses and increases the quality of groundnuts,
- Suitable drying methods are required to avoid the excessive heat in the windrows or heap drying plus reduction in quality due to the rains immediately after harvest,
- To maintain the seed and milling quality the drying procedures must be standardized,
- Farmers’ storage facilities are very poor. Low cost technology is required to store seed at the farm level,
- Various power and manually operated equipment used in the post-harvest operations such as threshers, decorticators, shellers and product processing equipment either need to be improved or their efficiency must be increased.
5.2.2 Gap in the processing industries
Four types of processing methods for extraction of oil are being used in India. Oil is obtained by crushing in village ghanis, rotaries, expellers and solvent extraction plants. It is necessary to launch a programme for improving the efficiency of the large number of processing units, particularly in the rural sector. Considerable improvement in the processing of oil by mills in India could be achieved through the addition of balancing equipment. Small-scale industries for preparing groundnut butter, milk and various other items need to be encouraged in the rural areas.
5.2.3 Seed production
Low productivity may be explained by noting that groundnut seed contributes about 40 percent of the total input cost, has a large size and low multiplication ratio compared to cereals. Consequently the production of quality seed and timely supply affects a bottleneck in popularizing the new released varieties. The situation observed today in India clearly warns that groundnut productivity can be increased substantially improving cultivation practices. These enhancements comprise integrated crop management and post-harvest practices, rather than breeding the new faster maturing varieties alone. Groundnut seed are also prone to loss of viability during storage plus losses due to very serious insect and pest damages. Timely availability of the quality seed and expense are the major constraints in the cultivation of groundnut by the small land-holders.
Poor quality of seed continues to be one of the major problems limiting the spread of summer or winter season groundnut in the states of Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Orissa. Prevailing weather conditions, improper drying and post-harvest practices currently adopted by the farmers in the summer groundnut growing areas make the produce unfit for the use as seed in the next rainy or winter/summer seasons. Accordingly, farmers cultivating groundnut in the winter/summer season in the paddy fallow are compelled to depend on poor quality seed brought from the neighbouring states. The consequences lead to considerable delay in sowing and poor emergence evidenced by patchy crop stand. As far as possible seed production programmes in various developing countries need to be organized on cluster basis for selected varieties in high demand and where shortfalls are anticipated. In case of a self-pollinated crop like groundnut, farmers may have to be advised to retain sufficient seed for next year’s sowing. A preliminary assessment of benefits accrued from producing and marketing groundnut seed at the farm level in Maharastra showed that seed production activity at village appears to have several advantages over existing centralized large scale production and procurement by state owned organizations. The immediate benefit is timely seed supply to farmers at their doorstep. Elimination of intermediate agencies appears to allow larger profits for seed producers.
Greater communication of experiences is required if farmers’ aspirations are to be raised regarding the outcomes of adopting new post-harvest technologies. Key positive factors were found to be higher annual farm income and education levels. Groundnuts required for seed purposes must be handled with much more care than enabled by normal commercial operations. When groundnuts are a major cash crop in an area, special crops should be grown specifically to provide seed. The extent of mechanical damage and its effect on germination and seedling vigour are not always appreciated, since damage to kernels may not be obvious visually. Hand-harvested seed can give twice the final stand and twice the yield of mechanically harvested seed (Roy et al., 1978).
Widespread and severe drought conditions have given a serious jolt to seed production programmes in India. The production of basic, breeders, foundation and certified seed of groundnut crop, therefore require highest priority in the winter/summer, if the availability of adequate seed supplies at the right time and place for rainy season sowings is a constraint. The winter/summer season provides ideal conditions for production of quality seed required for rainy and winter/summers. All our efforts should therefore, be made to take full advantage of the assured moisture and irrigation facilities available in various areas and launch massive seed production programme in groundnut to ensure that seed does not become limiting factor for subsequent rainy season sowings (Ranga Rao and Mangla Rai, 1987).
Is a better life possible for smallholder farmers? Good science is not enough. It must be backed by good extension work. A good example this is found in Malawi, where the national programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and ICRISAT are working together on a package deal for CG 7, a variety that could be major success story for groundnut in Africa. A number of simple factors like cost and availability of technology as well as more complex factors such as the social and culture milieu and compatibility of the new technology with traditional farming practices governs adoption. ICRISAT-Malawi NARS teams helped the adoption of CG 7. Two major problems were inadequate extension and lack of seed. In response to these problems, ICRISAT and NARS introduced a new scheme during the 1993/94 crop season involving over 300 women farmers as most groundnut farmers in Malawi are women. The object was to deliver affordable, high-quality CG 7 seed to farmers and simultaneously improve awareness of this variety by establishing on-farm demonstration/evaluation plots. Each farmer in the scheme was given 1 kg of seed. She could retain whatever she harvested, but had to return 1 kg of seed, which would be distributed to other farmers.
In 1981 a report on the Oilseed Growers Cooperative Project by the CLUSA/USAID project assessment team was submitted with the following recommendations on the improved seed supply to the farmers in India:
“Of the project’s input supply constraints by far the most crippling is the absolute scarcity of improved seed. The crux of the problem involves the limited acreage available to the project for seed multiplication activities. The recent experience of other developing countries with seed multiplication programmes clearly demonstrates that successful operations depend on two essential prerequisites: i.) seed farm and their required seed treatment facilities must be fairly large-scale undertakings run on a centralized basis and ii.) These operations are best managed by private sector enterprises in oilseeds it must be able to make available to growers genetically improved seed on a massive scale, seed of a sufficiently consistent quality that growers will entirely abandon the shortage of their own seed stocks. The team feels that for the project as a whole there will eventually arise the need for perhaps four seed plants of about 100 tonnes daily capacity each. On the other hand, in the absence of sufficient farm properties available to the project for seed multiplication activities, stop-gap strategies for seed supply may have to include village level schemes where one growers of every ten will specialized in the production of improves seed for his neighbours. The team is fully aware that the latter approach would create complex problems of local-level training and supervision to guarantee high seed quality; the team only endorse it as a strictly temporary activity conducted with already-selected grower demonstrators until such time as more adequate seed farm acreage and seed treatment plants have become operational”.
5.2.4 Economic and social considerations
The economic and social considerations vary among the countries due to variation in the agriculture policies and the priorities. The problem and impact of government policies has been discussed taking the example of India, where groundnut is cultivated on the largest area in the world. Department of Agricultural Economics, New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, submitted a survey report Cornell/International Agricultural Economics Study “The Impact of India’s Grain Revolution on the Pulses and Oilseeds” (Meenakshi et al., 1986). The highlights of the report on groundnut are mentioned below:
“Much of the interest in the Indian oilseeds economy has estimated from India’s large imports of vegetable oils recently. From being an importer of cereals and an exporter of vegetable oils in the 1960s, India has become an occasional and minor exporter of cereals and a regular and major importer of vegetable oils. This trade shift has occurred because the green revolution, which primarily benefited the cereals, did not extended to oilseeds and per capita consumption of oilseeds has declined”. Please see Figure 38.
Figure 38.Groundnuts are very popular in Saurastra (Gujarat), India and small farmers usually take it to their home to eat after roasting where as city dwellers purchase it from the market.
The demand for vegetable oils in India is driven primarily by that of edible oils. Domestic utilization of oilseed cakes and meals is low and exports are restricted. In fact, oilseeds in India are produced in order to satisfy vegetable oil demand, rather than oilcake demand. In the case of groundnut only a minor portion of oilseed production is used as seed or for snacks. In 1990s, demand pressures and the resultant skyrocketing of vegetable oil prices forced the government of India to liberalize its vegetable oil import policy to insure availability to the economically weaker section of the population. Nearly 400 000 tonnes of vegetable oil were imported in 1967 to 1977, constituting a 400 percent jump over levels in previous years. The value of imports has gone up correspondingly and averaging over seven billion rupees during the three years ending in 1984 comprising approximately half the value of agricultural imports. This expenditure drained India’s foreign exchange reserves. Until the late 1970s, vegetable oils could be imported free of custom duty. However, the Government of India felt the benefits from such a policy “were not fully accruing to the consumers” and that private traders were making large profits by maximizing domestic price through hoarding. Consequently in 1978 it channelled virtually all imports of vegetable oils through the state trading Cooperation of India. This directive has enabled the State Trading Cooperation of India to monitor the international market effectively and immediately take advantage of any downward price change. (FAO, 1982). Please see Figure 39.
Figure 39.A camel cart from the field to the farmhouse for threshing is transporting groundnut vines.
The green revolution in India, which entailed the adoption of high-yielding varieties together with an appropriate combination fertilizer application and water and pest management techniques, has, in fact, been a grain revolution. Its impact on Indian agriculture has been uneven for while the cereals have benefited from it, the oilseeds have not (Meenakshi, et al., 1986). No counterparts of the high-yielding varieties of cereals were developed for the oilseeds. The grain revolution acted to increase the relative profitability of cereal in comparison with the competing oilseed crops. In view of India’s noted Agriculture Economist “the high yielding varieties, typically increased the profit per unit of the output, i.e. they led to a reduction in the unit cost of production as a proportion of output” (Hanumantha Rao, 1975). Therefore, while cereal production kept up with population growth, oilseed production did not.
At present the major responsibility of groundnut research lies with the All India Coordinated
Research Project (Groundnut). In addition to the AICRP and research carried out in the State Agricultural Universities, several programmes exist under the auspices of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) to undertake groundnut research. Noteworthy among them is the National Research Centre for Groundnut, Junagadh. The International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, India, also has a major groundnut research programme. The first groundnut cultivar (Spanish improved) in India was released in 1936. After that about 80 varieties have been released, averaging 2 to 3 varieties per year. Nevertheless, not much has been achieved to increase productivity by developing new technologies and varieties.
The processing and marketing of oil is in the hands of a few traders who are in the position to exploit the farmers. Partially as a response to this fact, the Gujarat Cooperative Oilseeds Growers’ Federation (GROFED) was set up in 1979 in major groundnut-producing districts of Gujarat, in the belief that “by organizing farmers around a commodity system and resting with this farmer’s organization the management and control of technically superior processing and marketing facilities, so that a greater proportion of the consumer rupee can be paid to the producer in comparison to what the traditional trade can pay”. Unfortunately the GROFED has stopped functioning since 1993. Such cooperative organizations need to be established and strengthened with a strong political will in the developing countries.
5.2.5 Groundnut production constraints in Ghana
Groundnut is the most widely cultivated crop in Ghana and is featured prominently in the crop systems of the Savannah and Forest-savannah transitional agro-ecological zones. The major production limits identified by farmers, extension workers, researchers and other stakeholders include:
- diseases such as rosette, cercospora leaf spots, rust and aflatoxin contamination,
- inadequate supply of improved seed,
- high cost of labour especially for picking and shelling (manually) pods,
- pre-harvesting of seed, soil pest (termites and millipeds).
National Agricultural Research Project (NARP) is currently funding 16 research projects on groundnuts. Other areas of research cover socio-economic studies, development of cleaning and dehulling machines for small-scale processors in addition to some technology transfer activities on groundnut cultivation, processing and utilization. There is a need for future investigation to target breeding for high nitrogen fixing and drought-tolerant varieties. Further it is crucial to prioritize specific quality traits, for example oil and protein for the processing industries. There is also a need to develop simple harvesting and shelling machines for small-scale farmers (Asafo-Adjei, et al., 1998).
Most of the post-harvest activities like picking, drying, threshing and shelling are traditionally performed by the farmwomen. The techniques used by them are extremely arduous, involving a large investment of time for few results. Two categories of women are engaged in this type of activity. The first, farmwomen, process their own crop for family consumption while the second known as landless women or wives of marginal farmers, process other people’s crops as a way of supplementing family income. The introduction of crop processing equipment has different implications for these dissimilar sectors of society. Farmwomen may find they are released from tiring, unproductive work so that they can devote more time to childcare. If it is available, they may involve themselves in more remunerative kinds of activities, which would help them pay for the use of machinery. Landless women may find themselves relieved of their only means of earning a living.
Indeed, the introduction and spread of Engleberg mills in countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh has destroyed millions of part time jobs for the poorest individuals in society. Estimates show that 7 to 8 million women lost their jobs following mechanization of rice milling in Java (Carruthers, 1985). Please see Figure 40.
Figure 40. Harvesting and picking groundnut pods done by female labourers in experimental plots at the National Research Centre for Groundnut, (ICAR) Junagadh, India.
Participation of women in agriculture especially in developing countries has been appreciated silently, without much recognition and documentation of their contribution. They have not been prepared for active involvement in the development process. By and large, they have remained “invisible workers”. Since 1970s, a global concern for the emancipation of all women with special emphasis on rural and farmwomen has been expressed in numerous ways aimed at improving the working environment of women along with raising their standard of living. Limited efforts have been made in scientific organizations and institutions for creating appropriate technologies for women acknowledging the nature and extent of their environment in various enterprises plus considering their work culture and milieu (ICAR, 1988).
Groundnut contributes significantly to household food security. Since many smallholder farmers in the developing countries are women, it has an important bearing on the gender issue. Gender-related Iissues impact labour allocation and activity patterns. It further affects labour requirements for groundnut production, use of hired labour, decision making for resource allocation and decision making for distribution of benefits. As indicated by user perceptions in developing countries like India, technology adoption increased the workload of women farmers and expanded the employment prospects of female wage-labourers.
Development of technologies enhanced the unequal power relationship between men and women, therefore reinforcing stereotyped responsibilities within households. Women tended to lose in resource allocations, but marginally gained in benefits distribution. Still, there was a inclination to push women into the domestic sphere and men into marketing.
The women’s participation in agriculture is a multifaceted area for research. It is difficult to clearly understand and appreciate their role and contribution unless all the major data are studied in depth. Information must be analyzed individually as well as through a systems approach. A critical look into the micro-level studies conducted so far revealed the following:
- participation in agricultural and allied activities;
- decision-making in farm and home-related matters;
- impact of new technology on employment and income;
- time use pattern;
- access to development inputs and services including technology, credit and training;
- participation in rural-agricultural development programme; and
- role expectation and role performance.
There is a lot to be done to improve socio-economic conditions, while increasing active participation of women in the developing countries.
ICRISAT has conducted a survey on “An ex-post gender analysis of impact of groundnut crop production technologies in the India SAT”. The following summarize the major research results (ICRISAT Annual Report, 1995):
- Demand for female labour had gone up with the introduction of technology. Labour use patterns show that women play an important role in groundnut production.
- Groundnut production technologies created a positive impact on the yields and income form groundnut for the farm households and helped to create an informal farmer-to-farmer seed market, boosting their income considerably.
- High cash inflow from groundnut crop increased the decision-making power of men regarding uses of output and household expenditure pattern. Women do not have input and output markets. Hence policies have to address these issues. New technologies create a gap between men and women in household decision-making power.
- Women are equipped with less information to express their preferences and to increase their decision-making powers.
- Perceptions of men and women farmers revealed that the criteria, as well as number of criteria for evaluation of groundnut varieties, were different for men and women. The criteria used by women were very closely related to the operations performed by them.
- Women’s concerns were centred on harvesting and processing problems.
- Factors for consideration in technology development are high capital cost, increase in labour requirement, workload associated with practices and longer duration of the crop.
o Intra-household dynamics of technology intervention: A gender analysis approach
- In another study on “Intra-household dynamics of technology intervention: A gender analysis approach” conducted at ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India (ICRISAT, Annual report 1995), showed overall higher benefits for the technology village (Umra). The difference between access and control clearly speaks of the disadvantageous position of Umra women. The benefits analysis revealed that new technology led to creation of new markets for different groundnut products. For example, before the technology intervention, the market was for groundnut pods only, while the introduction of new technology and its quick adaptation created a new seed market.
The group discussion conducted with men and women of farm and labour households to ascertain their performances and specific needs after experiencing technology intervention is marked by contradictions. The dialogue points out a clear polarization between farmers and labourers as revealed in Table 27.