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SME Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Successful Groundnut Farming Business in Nigeria

Groundnut, also called peanut, is a high-value cash crop that is an important income source for millions of smallholder farmers in Nigeria. With proper planning, groundnut production can become a very lucrative agribusiness in Nigeria owing to rising local food demands and export potential to foreign markets.

Choosing High-Yielding Groundnut Varieties in Nigeria

Proper groundnut variety selection is imperative to achieve high yields under Nigerian growing conditions. Top improved varieties include SAMNUT 23, SAMNUT 24, SAMNUT 25, and SAMNUT 26, which yield about 2 tonnes per hectare, outperforming local varieties. The most widespread local varieties, like Yenya, F-Mix, and Olo 11, yield approximately 1 tonne per hectare.

Key Attributes of Adaptable Groundnut Varieties

Heat tolerance, early maturity within 100–120 days, resistance to the rosette virus, improved shelling percentage, and high oil and protein content are desirable attributes for higher productivity. The SAMNUT series from Nigeria’s Institute for Agricultural Research meets these criteria.

Optimal Soil and Climatic Conditions for Groundnuts

Groundnut thrives best in well-drained, sandy loam or loamy sand soils with good aeration and water-holding capacity. A soil pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 encourages optimal flowering and pod development. Ideal growing areas feature temperatures around 28°C for most growth stages and 500–1000 mm of annual rainfall spread through the crop cycle.

Land Preparation Methods for Groundnut Cultivation

Properly prepared lands enable good seed germination, root development, and pegging essential for pod setting. Plough the field deep to improve aeration, followed by harrowing to finely pulverise the soil. Raise beds 75 cm–90 cm apart or create mounds at 15 cm in height and 45 cm spacing for improved drainage.

Use of Quality Groundnut Seeds

High-grade seeds ensure uniform germination, vigour, and maturity. Certified seeds from reputable companies like Premier Seed Nigeria have excellent purity, germination rates, and yields. Treat seeds with recommended fungicides and rhizobium inoculants for enhanced growth. Soak them for 8–12 hours before sowing at a depth of 5-7 cm.

Groundnut plant spacing and plant population

For bunch varieties like SAMNUT 23 with erect growth habits, use inter- and intra-row spacing of 60 cm by 15 cm, respectively, giving a plant density of about 222,000 plants per hectare. For spreading types like OBATALA, space rows at a 75 cm x 20 cm distance to achieve 148,000 plants per hectare. Wider spacing lowers yields.

Fertiliser Application Rates for Groundnuts

Apply single superphosphate or phosphate fertilisers at 100 kg/ha at planting to spur early plant and root development. Five weeks later, sidedress with 20 kg nitrogen and 40 kg potassium per hectare. Foliar fertilisers containing calcium, boron, and sulphur applied during flowering and podding boost yields.

Pest and Disease Management Strategies

Major groundnut pests like millipedes, termites, nematodes, and aphids can cause extensive crop losses. Use approved insecticides like chlorpyrifos and fosthiazate for effective control. For diseases like rosette and leaf spot, apply Mancozeb at the recommended rates. Follow integrated pest management for best results.

Cost-Saving Irrigation Innovations

Though groundnut cultivation depends primarily on rainfall, supplemental irrigation at peak water requirement periods like flowering and seed formation stages using low-cost drip kits, clay pots, and furrow methods can almost double pod yields. This cheaply boosts production for a higher income.

Intercropping Groundnut for Impressive Profits

Growing groundnuts alongside cereals like maize and millet or crops like melon significantly raises overall revenues from the same land area owing to their differing maturity times and growth habits. Fixed-row intercropping patterns optimise yields and income, besides lowering risks.

Timing of Groundnut Harvesting

Groundnut haulms start yellowing 80–120 days after planting, depending on the variety grown, indicating the time for harvesting. Use a groundnut lifter for uprooting plants. Gather lifted plants into windrows for curing and drying under the sun for 4–7 days to bring moisture below 10% for safe storage. Timely harvesting prevents losses.

Post-harvest handling and storage

After drying, remove the remaining hauls by hand. Further drying for 2–3 days brings the moisture level down to 7%. Clean pods by removing immature, damaged, and broken ones. Bag and store in moisture-free conditions using wooden crates or bamboo baskets, avoiding pesticide contamination.

Business Opportunities in Groundnut Processing

Instead of selling raw groundnuts, farmers can substantially boost incomes through value addition by milling into powder, making peanut butter, snack nuts, cakes, or oil extraction—tapping into the vastly underserved Nigerian consumer market currently importing these products.

Export Market Prospects

As Nigeria’s leading grower, tapping export opportunities for in-shell and shelled nuts, peanut meal, as well as roasted and salted nuts in Europe and Asia will earn foreign exchange amidst rising global demands. Expanding production and meeting international quality standards is key to higher exports.

Financial Support for Aspiring Groundnut Farmers

The CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme, BOA loans targeted at the agricultural sector, and agric investor funds from banks with lower interest rates help meet working capital and equipment purchase costs. Government subsidies and NGO grants also assist new groundnut ventures.

Key production cost components

Major costs comprise land rentals or acquisitions (for mechanised farms), labour, seeds, bush clearing, fungicides and insecticides, irrigation, fertilisers, harvesting tools, packaging materials, and storage and warehousing charges, which altogether average about N300,000 per hectare.

Expected Returns on Investment

Groundnut gives an impressive return on investment from profitable production and processing. With yields averaging 2 tonnes per hectare and conservative farmgate prices at N200 per kg, a yearly revenue per hectare of N400,000 is achievable, giving over 30% in net profit margins after costs.

Challenges Facing Groundnut Production

Despite its income-generating potential, groundnut farming faces constraints like poor access to credit and farm inputs, low adoption of high-yielding varieties and good agricultural practices, inefficient farm mechanization, a lack of storage infrastructure, and poor market access that hinder the emergence of economically viable cultivation.

Overcoming key limitations

Popularising fast-yielding disease-resistant varieties, extending proper agronomic techniques, including intercropping,  and leveraging e-commerce platforms for direct sales will transform groundnut into a multi-billion-naira industry, generating rural employment and prosperity.


Given strong market prospects amidst rising food insecurity, groundnut farming delivers substantial socioeconomic benefits for Nigerian farmers, industries, and the wider economy. By surmounting current challenges, the vast potential for competitive groundnut production can be sustainably unlocked to guarantee national food self-sufficiency and foreign exchange earnings through agro-exports.


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