Vigna subterranea (also known by its common names Bambara groundnut, Bambara-bean, Congo goober, earth pea, ground-bean, or hog-peanut), is a member of the family Fabaceae. The plant originated in West Africa. Vigna subterranea ripens its pods underground, much like the peanut (also called a groundnut). They can be eaten fresh or boiled after drying.
Names in other languages
The original local name for Bambara nut is cokon (Bamanankan). Bambara groundnuts are also known as jugo beans or in Swahili, njugumawe. In the Republic of Zambia, bambara groundnuts are known as either ntoyo (ciBemba),katoyo (kiKaonde), or mbwiila (chiTonga). In Shangaan they are known as tindluwa. In Malagasy they are known as voanjobory. In Hausa language it is variously referred to as "Gurjiya" or "Kwaruru". In Goemai language of Plateau State of Northern Nigeria it is known as "Kwam", and Kanuri people refer to it as "Ngamgala". In Indonesia it is called "kacang bogor", which literally means "Bogor peanut", because this plant is widely cultured in Bogor, West Java. In the Shona language of Zimbabwe it is known as "Nyimo", and "indlubu" in the ndebele language. In the Ibo language in eastern Nigeria, it is commonly known as "Okpa". In the Northern part of Yoruba, it is commonly known as "Epa-kuta", and in the Gha Language, spoken by the people in Greater Accra, Ghana, the Bambara Bean is called "Akwei". In Silozi, they are called 'Lituu'
Origin and regions of cultivation
Importance in the world food system
Bambara groundnut represents the third most important grain legume in semi-arid Africa. “It is resistant to high temperature and is suitable for marginal soils where other leguminous crops cannot be grown”. In addition, it makes very little demand on the soil and has a high nutritive value with 65% carbohydrate and 18% protein content. For these reasons it is not prone to the risk of total harvest failure even in low and uncertain rainfall regions. "Due to its high protein value it is a very important crop for poorer people in Africa who cannot afford expensive animal protein." Despite its nutritional value, it is still considered as one of the prioritized neglected and underutilized species in Benin.
The seeds are used for food and beverage because of its high protein content and for digestive system applications. The entire plant is known for soil improvement because of nitrogen fixation.
Optimal soils for Bambara groundnut production are sandy soils to prevent waterlogging. Optimal soil depth is between 50 and 100 cm, with a light soil texture. soil fertility should be low and soil pH is best suited between 5 and 6.5 and should not by lower than 4.3 or higher than 7.
The production is best suited between a latitude of 20° - 30°, i.e. the tropical wet and dry (Aw) and the subtropical dry summer (Cs) climate zones. Optimal temperature is between 19°C and 30°C. Temperatures below 16°C and above 38°C are not suited for the production of bambara groundnut. The bambara groundnut is very drought resistant. The minimal annual rainfall requirement is about 300 mm and optimal annual rainfall is between 750 mm and 1400 mm and should not exceed 3000 mm.
The cropping system is semi-permanent and the Bambara groundnut can be cultivated as single crop or as intercrop. Best suited intercrops are sorghum, millet, maize, groundnut, yams and cassava.
Bambara groundnut is mainly cultivated as intercrop, however the planting density varies between 6 to 29 plants per square meter. For woodland savannas of Côte d'Ivoire the highest yield is attainable with a plant density of 25 plants per square meter.
Since Vigna subterranea is usually intercropped, no fertilizer is applied. A yield of 1000 kg seed and 925 kg leaves remove 55.7 kg N, 26.2 kg K, 25.1 kg C, 7.8 kg P and 6.6 kg Mg. Since Bambara groundnut is a legume, phosphor is the most important nutrient. An application rate of 60 kg/ha of P2O5 is recommended for bambara groundnut in Yola, Adamawa State Nigeria.
World production of Vigna subterranea increased from 29'8000 tonnes in 1972 to 79'155 tonnes in 2005, while the yield during this period did not increase. "As an under-utilised crop, bemmbara groundnut has not received sustained research" until recent years and therefore no yield increase occurred.
|Production Year 2008 (Source FAOSTAT)||Area Harvested (Ha)||Yield (kg/ha)||Production (tonnes)|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||23'000||442||10'160|
Pest and diseases
Pest and diseases are not considered to be a serious problem for Vigna subterranea.
- Leaf spot (Cerscospora canescens & Phyllosticta voandzeia)
- Powdery mildew (Erysiphe sp.)
- Wilt (Fusarium sp.)
- Leaf blotch (Phomopsis sp.)
- Stem rot (Scleorotium rolfsii)
- Aphids (Aphis sp.)
- Bruchids (Callosobruchus sp.)
- Leaf hoppers (Hilda patruelis)
- Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne javanica)
- Parasitic plants (Alectra vogelii and Striga gesnerioides)
The growth cycle is between (min-max) 90–170 days and under optimal conditions the cycle is about 120–150 days to pod maturity. Flowers appear 40–60 days after planting. 30 days after pollination the pod reaches maturity and during another 55 days the seeds fully develop. Every 30 days they are produced again.
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