BAMBARA GROUNDNUT BASICS
“It is a paradox that an indigenous African crop which produces almost completely balanced food and easy to cultivate and also makes very little demand on the soil, should be relegated in its own countries” (Doku, 1996)
Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.) is an indigenous African legume, where it is the third most important legume in terms of consumption and socioeconomic impact in semi-arid Africa behind peanut (Arachis hypogaea) and cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). The crop makes few demands on the soil, and is known to be drought tolerant and relatively disease free. It is capable of growing on nutrient poor soils where most crops would not thrive. The main production area is semi-arid Africa with a secondary cultivation centre in South East Asia in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The seeds are highly nutritious and are used for human and animal consumption.
Common name: Bambara groundnut, Bambara nut
Botanical name: Voandzeia subterranean (L.) thousars, synonyms of Vigna subterranean and belongs to the plantea of the family of fabaceae and sub family of Faboidea (Bamshaiye et al, 2011)
Other names: Jugo beans (South Africa), Ntoyo cibemba (Republic of Zambia), Gurjiya or Kwaruru (Hausa, Nigeria), Okpa (Ibo, Nigeria), Epa- Roro (Yoruba, Nigeria) and Nyimo beans (Zimbabwe) (Bamshaiye et al, 2011); Izindlubu in isiZulu, South Africa (Mahbudhi et al, 2013)
Drought tolerant, can grow in areas of high or low rainfall. It has been reported that this legume can produce yields where annual rainfall is below 500 mm and the optimum is between 900–1000 mm per year (Bamshaiye et al, 2011)
Nitrogen fixing legume; Yakubu et al (2010) report that in Nigerian soils Bambara groundnut was found to fix 28.4 KgN/ha in phosphorus poor soils, but increased to ~41kg/ha upon application P fertiliser
Photoperiod control of Bambara groundnut is essential for proper growth, as it mostly affects pod set and filling (Brink 1997, Kendabie et al 2012)). Kendabie et al (2012) reported that considerable differences exist between landraces under long-day photoperiod exposure. Four classes of landraces have been identified: (1) qualitative short-day (e.g. Ankpa 4); (2) quantitative short-day (e.g. TN, Gresik, LunT); (3) quantitative long-day (e.g. IITA-686, DodR); and (4) photoperiod insensitive/day-neutral (e.g. S19-3, Uniswa-Red, Dip C).
Agronomy and morphology
According to a report by Bamshaiye et al (2011), Bambara groundnut is an herbaceous, intermediate, annual plant, with creeping stems at ground level (36). This legume is a small plant that grows to a height of .30–0.35 m with compound leaves of three leaflets. The plant generally looks like bunched leaves arising from branched stems which form a crown on the soil surface. After fertilisation, pale yellow flowers are borne on the freely branching stems; these stems then grow downwards into the soil, taking the developing seed with it. The seeds will form pods encasing seeds just below the ground in a similar fashion to peanut. Bambara groundnut pods are round, wrinkled, and over ½ inch long. Each pod will contain one or two seeds that are round, smooth, and very hard when dried.
According to Mahazib et al (2013), high carbohydrate (65%) and relatively high protein (18%) content as well as sufficient quantities of fat (6.5%) make the bambara groundnut a complete food. According to research by Ihekoronye and Ngoddy (1985) and validated by Bamashiye et al (2011), Bambara groundnut seeds have been found to be richer than peanuts (groundnuts) in essential amino acids such as isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and valine. . This is an important trait for the potential of bambara groundnut to be used to complement foods lacking in these essential amino acids. The fatty acid content is predominantly linoleic, palmitic and linolenic acids as per reported by Minka and Bruneteau (2000).
Cultivation and Production
Bambara groundnut is cultivated in many semi-arid African countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa with a secondary cultivation centre in South East Asia namely Thailand, Indonesia and parts of Malaysia. Traditionally, it was cultivated in extreme, tropical environments by small-scale farmers without access to irrigation and/or fertilisers and with little guidance on improved practices (Mabhaudi et al, 2013). In 2001, FAO published a global mapping report for bambara groundnut in which crop modelling was for the first time used to predict potential areas of production and as well as potential yields. The report by Azam – Ali et al (2001) revealed that beyond its two current cultivation centres there is a potential for cultivating bambara groundnut in many places – countries with a Mediterranean climate such as Lebanon and Israel as well as European countries such as Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece. The report also concluded that when factors such as the seasonal distribution of rainfall, day length and range of temperatures during the growing season are accounted for, the potential yields of bambara groundnut within its current areas of cultivation can be significantly increased without high levels of agronomic inputs.
End User requirements
There is a preference for white and cream landraces with large seed size in Africa (Akpalu et al 2013; Berchie et al 2010) whilst in South East Asia black and red landraces are preferred. According to Akpalu et al (2013), in Ghana, majority of farmers (>60%) cultivate white seed landraces, and only 10-15% cultivated black, cream and red seeded landraces. Most farmers within the community as well as the market women were interested in the white landraces because it is fast maturing, good market price and was high in demand. Darker seed colour such as black and red are not favoured due to the higher tannin.
Consumption and Utilisation
In general, both the immature and mature Bambara groundnut seeds are consumed. Boiling is the preferred processing method for consumption, thus easy cooking time has become a major trait sought after by farmers and end users (Mahazib et al 2013; Berchie et al 2010). It is essentially grown for human consumption, and can be used as an ingredient in cooking, making flour, or eaten as a snack (Mahazib et al 2013).
In African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, the seeds are pound and made into flour. The flour Is usually and added to maize to enrich traditional preparations (Akpalu et al 2013) and used to make a variety of cakes, or are mixed with cereals and used to prepare several types of porridge (Bamashiye et al, 2011)
In the early 1960s, Bambara groundnut was canned in Ghana, in tomato sauce with pieces of meat, in brine, or as ‘aboboi’ . (Bamashiye et al, 2011). There have been reports that Bambara seeds used to be canned in Zimbabwe but literature is lacking
Bambara milk is processed in a similar way to that of soybean, and is often used as weaning milk in many African countries (Bamashiye et al, 2011). Several reports have concluded that bambara groundnut milk (BGNM) is rated higher in acceptability compared to other legume based milks such as soybean and cowpea (Murevanhema and Jideani, 2013)
In Indonesia, Bambara groundnut is fried and eaten as a snack called “kacang bogor” (kacang meaning nuts in Indonesia language, and bogor being the province where this legume is cultivated in Indonesia)
Other uses of Bambara groundnut include use as animal feed. Seeds have been successfully used to feed chicks and the leaves are suitable for animal grazing because they are rich in nitrogen and phosphorus (Bamashiye et al, 2011). In Nigeria, (Adeparusi and Agbede 2002) reported on use of tilapia fish feed consisting of Bambara groundnut and leaf protein from Leucaena leucocephala or Gliricidia sepium, in which the fish grew quite well on this diet.
In Ghana, bambara groundnut is also used for medicinal purposes. According to Akpalu et al (2013), white seeds are mixed with guinea fowl meat as a treatment for diarrhoea while black seeds are mixed with water to treat sick children, ground to treat skin rashes or chewed to alleviate swollen jaw diseases.
Papers cited in this section:
- Adeparusi E.O, and Agbede J. O. (2009) Evaluation of Leucaena And Gliricidia Leaf Protein Cconcentrate as Supplements to Bambara Grundnut (Vigna subterranean(L.) Verdc) In The Diest of Oreochromis niloticus. Aquaculture Nutrition 12(2): 335-342.
- Akpalu, M.M., Atubilla, I.A., and Oppong-Sekyere, D. (2013) Assesing the level of cultivation and utilization of Bambara groundnut in (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.) In the Sumbrungu Community of Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, Ghana. IJPAES 3(3): 68 – 75
- Azam – Ali, S.N., Aguilar-Manjarrez, J., and Bannayan-Avval, M. (2001) A Global Mapping System for Bambara Groundnut Production. FAO Agricultural Information Management Series No.1
- Bamshaiye, O.M., Adegbola, J.A., and Bamishaiye, E.I. (2011) Bambara groundnut: an Under-Utilized Nut in Africa. Advances in Agricultural Biotechnology 1: 60-72
- Berchie, J. N, Sarkodie-Addoo, J., Adu-Dapaah,H., Opoku.M., Addy, S., Asare, E., Donkor, J. (2010) Yield evaluation of three early maturing Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea L. Verdc.) Landraces at the CSIR-Crops Research Institute, Fumesua-Kumasi, Ghana. Journal of Agronomy 9 (4)
- Doku, EV. (1996). Problems and prospects for the improvement of bambara groundnut. Proceedings of the International Bambara Groundnut Symposium, July 23-25, University of Nottingham, UK, pp. 19-27.
- Kendabie, P., Holdsworth, M., and Mayes, S. (2012) Understanding photoperiod requirements for reproductive development in bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea). Poster presentation 2012 World Food Congress
- Mabhaudhi, T., Modi, A.T., and Beletse, Y.G (2013) Growth, phenological and yield responses of a bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea L. Verdc) landrace to imposed water stress: II. Rain shelter conditions. Water SA 39 (2)
- Mazahib, A. M., Nuha, M. O., Salawa I. S. and Babiker, E.E. (2013) Some nutritional attributes of bambara groundnut as influenced by domestic processing. International Food Research Journal 20(3): 1165-1171
- Minka, S.R. and Bruneteau, M. (2000) Partial chemical composition of Bambara pea [Vigna subterranea (L.) verde]. Food Chem., 68: 273-276
- Murevanhema,Y.Y., and Jideani, V.A. (2013) Potential of Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc) milk as a probiotic beverage-a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 53(9)
- Yakubu,H., Kwari, J.D., and Sandabe, M.K. (2010) Effect of Phosphorus Fertilizer on Nitrogen Fixation by Some Grain Legume Varieties in Sudano – Sahelian Zone of North Eastern Nigeria Nigerian Journal of Basic and Applied Science 18(1):19-26