Groundnut; a crop for subsistence in edible oil production in Pakistan

Rizwan Ali Sheirdil1, Ahmad Mahmood2*, Rizwan Ullah Khan1, Rabia Khalid1, Ummay Amara1 

1 Department of Soil Science & SWC, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi 

2 Department of Agronomy, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi

*Corresponding Author: [email protected]


There is a major gap in utilization and production of edible oil in Pakistan so edible oil is a major import commodity in Pakistan trade and has adverse effects on the economy of Pakistan (Economic survey 2010-11, Ali et al.). Pakistan imported about 1.7 million tons of edible oil or its derivatives during 2010-11 which cost US $ 1.65 billion. The local production of edible oils is just 696000 tons which is very less than total demand, 57.4% increase in the import of edible oil is observed in 2010-11 as compared to 2009-10.

Among the oilseeds, groundnut crop is important for its oil production (Naeem-Ud-Din et al., 2009). Groundnut is among traditional oilseed crops (Baig and Ali, 1982). Groundnut is basically grown as an oilseed crop in Pakstan but its production is very low to the meet the requirements of edible oil production (Liaqat Ali Shahid et al., 2010). Ahmad 1990 stated that groundnut was firstly cultivated commercially on an area of 400 hectares in 1949. In Pakistan, groundnut was not being grown as an oilseed crop earlier but now major concerns are being shown to the use of groundnut crop for edible oil rather than using only as nut crop.

Groundnut is called as the king of oilseeds due to 43-55% oil contents in its seeds (Shad et al., 2009, Naeem-Ud-Din et al., 2009). The pods are formed beneath the soil so this crop is called as ‘groundnut’. Its oil is good for edible oil production as it contains 22 % linoleic acid and 61 % oleic acid (PARC). It is grown on a large area in the world as an oilseed crop. Its cultivation is preferred in rainfed areas in world as well as in Pakistan. Resistance to water stress has been reported in groundnut but prolonged drought has worse effects on the pods and seeds (Stansell et al., 1976; Rao et al., 1989).


Kingdom: Plantae

Division/Phylum Spermatophytes

Class Angiosperms

Sub-class Dicotyledonae

Order Fabales

Family Fabaceae

Genus Arachis

Species A. hypogaea

Botanical name

Arachis hypogaea

Local name Moong phalli, mung phala

Source: Resslar1980.

These days groundnut is being grown commercially as a cash crop throughout the country but the main focus of groundnut cultivation is in rainfed areas. Following is the distribution of major groundnut producer districts.

Punjab Sindh KPK

• Attock • Khairpur • Sawabi

• Chakwal • Ghotki • Kohat

• Khushab • Sukkhar • Karak

• Mianwali • Sanghar • Malakand division

• Bhakkar • D. I. Khan

• Bahawalnagar

Economic importance:

i. Complete seeds are roasted and eaten directly.

ii. Major use of groundnut in the world is extraction of oil from its seeds which is used for cooking and in vegetable ghee industries.

iii. After extraction of the oil, the seed cake; rich in fatty acids and proteins is fed to animals.

iv. Groundnut can be said as a good nitrogen (N) fixer as it can fix N about 100-130 kg ha-1 per year, this N can easily be available for the upcoming crop. If we inoculate the seeds or soil with specific bacteria associated to groundnut, then there can be efficient N fixation (Nambiar and Dart, 1983).

v. Groundnut oil is used in cosmetics and soap making. It can also be used as a lubricant.

vi. The seeds of the peanut contain protein and vitamins which are nutritious for human body.

vii. The residual seed cake can also be used in organic farming as manure as it contains 7-8% Nitrogen, 1.5% Phosphorus and 1.2% Potassium.

viii. The plant stem and leaves can also be used as a fodder or silage making.

ix. This crop can also be used as a cover crop and sometimes an important rotation in any cropping system.

x. Peanut oil has a very high smoking point so it can easily be used for margarine, salad oil and shortening.

Chemical composition of groundnut:

In 100 gm of the seeds there is 240 KJ energy. Water is 5%, carbohydrates 18% and 28% protein. The seeds of groundnut also contain vitamin A, vitamin B and iron.

Content Percentage

Protein 25.2

Oil 48.2

Starch 11.5

Soluble sugar 4.5

Crude Fiber 2.1

Moisture 6

Source: Jambunathan 1991

Characteristics Raw Roasted

Calories(g) 564 582

Protein(g) 26 26

Fat(g) 47.5 48.7

Carbohydrate(g) 18.6 20.6

Calcium(mg) 69 72

Phosphorus(mg) 401 401

Iron(mg) 2.1 2.2

Thiamine (B1)(mg) 1.14 0.32

Riboflavine(B2)(mg) 0.13 0.13

Niacin(mg) 17.2 17.2

Source: In 100 g seeds; Source: Burn and Huffman, 1975

Characteristics Shell Haulms Oil Cake

Cellulose 65.7 22.11 to 35.35

Carbohydrates 21.2 38.06 to 46.95 22 to 30

Proteins 7.3 8.30 to 15.0 45 to 60

Minerals 4.5 1.39 to 2.88 4 to 5.7

Crude Fiber 22.11 to 35.35 3.8 to 7.5

Moisture 7.13 to 10.0 8 to 10

Source: Reddy, P.S., 1988

Plant botany:

Groundnut is a self pollinated crop with indeterminate habit of growth; in which vegetative and reproductive growth continues side by side. It is an annual plant and completes its reproductive growth within a year. The fruit of the groundnut is a pod which develops underground by the help of a peg which travels from the flower to the soil.

The groundnut plant is erect or bunchy in shape depending upon the variety. Its height is about ½ feet to 2 feet. It has well developed tap root system which bears lateral roots. Nodules are also born on the lateral roots. The leaves of groundnut crop are alternate and pinnate (having leaflets) with 4 leaflets.

Source: © W.P. Armstrong 15 March 2009

The plant bears small flowers yellowish in color. The flowers are either single or in clusters. Both male and female are born in the same inflorescence. The initial flowers appear 4-6 weeks after sowing and maximum flowers are produced within 6-10 weeks. After pollination, the pegs are formed which grow geotropically towards the soil and go 2-3 inches deep where the pegs get matured to form peanut pods. Pods get matured within 2-3 weeks and the oil content is reached its maximum after 6-7 weeks followed by protein contents. Groundnut crop matures in about 5-6 months depending on the variety.

Source: © W.P. Armstrong 15 March 2009

As groundnut is an indeterminate crop so besides the vegetative growth, reproductive growth also continues. If the pods remain in the soil for more than recommended time, they may rot and reduce the market value as the outer shell is important in consumers’ eye.

Source: © W.P. Armstrong 15 March 2009

Climate Requirement:

Groundnut is a tropical plant and needs warm growing season. At least 500 mm rainfall, maximum sunshine and warm temperature is suitable climate for the production of groundnut. Atmospheric temperature of about 25 to 30 ºC is ambient for the better growth and production of groundnut. After the establishment of the plant when it achieves its vigor, it can tolerate water stress to a greater extent. However, the plant is less tolerant to flooding as compared to drought.

Soil Requirement:

Ideal soils required for better production of groundnut are sandy loam or sandy clay loam soils with better drainage of water. A pH of 6.5-7.0 is quite favorable for cultivation of groundnut accompanied by a high fertility. Pods are usually formed in a small number when crop is sown in heavy soils. Better germination can be acquired if the soil temperature varies from 27-31 ºC. If the temperature is low at the sowing time, there will more chance of seed borne diseases besides low germination rate (Singh and Oswalt, 1995). Light well drained sandy loam soils are preferred for groundnut crop as these soils help the pods to easily penetrate in the soil and achieve the maximum size.

Clods and previous crop residues free soil is most suitable for production of groundnut. In groundnut crop, the soil conditions should be proper as the pegs of the groundnut penetrate in the soil deeper, if there is compact soil then there will be problem in pod formation. Soils with good drainage and coarse texture will improve the quantity and quality of the pods which will have more market value. If the soil is clayey textured then there may be formation of hard soil surface and the pegs will not be able to enter the soil, besides this manual harvesting in this type of soils is too difficult. So most favorable soils for this crop are sandy loam but the fertility status of these soils is low so balanced and timely application of fertilizers is strongly recommended for better crop yield.

Rainfall Requirement:

Moisture availability is a major factor that affects the growth and production of all the crops, similar is the case with the groundnut crop. Most of the groundnut is cultivated in rainfed areas where irregular rainfall pattern affects its growth. Minimum rainfall and long term prevailing dry spells are considered as the major factors in lower and average yield of groundnut in Asia and Africa (Reddy et al., 2003, Zeyong 1992; Camberlin and Diop, 1999).

Production technology:

Land preparation:

Proper seed bed can be made according to sowing method like broadcasting, row sowing or bed sowing. A good seed bed is required as the fertilized ovule will penetrate the soil and make pods.

If the sowing is to be done in irrigated conditions then primary tillage operations should be done to remove the stubbles of the previous crop. This primary tillage should be done a month before sowing but this is not very easy in the irrigated areas as the cropping intensity has been increased and to keep the land fallow even for few days is not possible. So both primary and secondary tillage operations should be carried out immediately after the harvest of wheat crop in April-May.

In the rainfed areas, sowing of the crops is largely influenced by the rainfall. So before the occurrence of the rainfall, deep tillage with the help of Mouldboard plough (MB plough) should be carried out to conserve the soil moisture available by the rainfall. Then before sowing the crops, secondary tillage can be done.

Seed rate:

Good seed is a pre-requisite for better production and yield so the seed should be free from weed seeds, diseases. Immature seeds are not recommended for sowing as there will be very less viable seed and the proper plant population will not be achieved. A few days prior to sowing, the groundnut pods should be shelled and the seed should be treated with fungicide to reduce the seed borne diseases. Following are the recommended sees rates according to the growth habit of the crop

Spreading and semi spreading types: 75 –80 kg / ha (167,000 plants)

Erect and semi-erect types: 95-100 kg / ha (220,000 plants).

The optimum plant population in ‘spreading and semi spreading’ should be 167,000 plants per hectare and for the ‘bunchy and semi bunchy types’ 220,000 plants. Spreading type plants have less plant population because when plants grow and get their maximum vigor, they cover more area than erect type of plants.

Seed Inoculation:

As discussed earlier, groundnut is leguminous crop and fixes nitrogen with the help of symbiotic bacteria but this process starts 30-40 days after sowing with the limitation that particular Rhizobium spp. is present. So the incorporation of the particular bacteria is essential for initiation of N-fixation.

Planting time:

Groundnut is a kharif crop and usually sown in March-April. If in the growing season (April to September) of the crop, there is enough rainfall (500 mm), then there will be better growth of the crop which will consequently increase the yield of the crop. Sowing time in different areas and conditions is nested in the following table

Region Sowing time

Punjab Rainfed areas (Pothwar) and Malakand Division April

Irrigated areas 1st week of March

Sindh May

KPK March

Source: PARC and Khan et al., 2009


Conventionally the groundnut crop was being cultivated by broadcast method, even now in some parts of the country groundnut is being cultivated through this method. A method of sowing groundnut known as Poura method is invented by farmers which is also being used throughout the country. A seed drill and precision planter is developed by joint efforts of FMI and BARD project to compensate better plantation of groundnut. Only a few progressive farmers are using these precision techniques for cultivation of groundnut (Shahid 2004). Agricultural extension work is needed to promote the use of precision techniques for the sowing of groundnut crop.

Every method has its merits and demerits which are discussed in the table.

Method Merits Demerits

Broadcast • Easy for the farmers

• Very economical • Poor plant emergence

• Uneven seed distribution

• 15-20% less yield of crop

Poura Method • Easily available implements • P x P distance cannot be maintained

• Seed depth cannot be fixed at the recommended

• Seed is not covered and can lead to dehydration

• Consequently there will be lower yield

Seed drill or precision planter • P x P distance can be maintained

• Seed depth is controlled

• The seed is covered properly after sowing

• Hoeing, weeding and spraying is easy in this method

• Required plant population is achieved

• Increase in crop vigor and yield • Not easily available to the farmers as it is still not commercialized

• Costly technology

Fertilizer Recommendations:

Groundnut is a leguminous crop and has the ability of fixing Nitrogen biologically with the help of symbiotic micro-organisms. The major symbiotic micro-organisms are bacteria and belong to the genus Rhizobium which is specifically associated to legumes. Due to biologically fixed Nitrogen, the Nitrogen requirement of legumes is very low as compared to the other crops. However, initial dose of N is essential for legumes to early establishment of the plants and symbiosis.

Recommended rate of fertilizer for groundnut crop is 20 kg nitrogen, 80 kg phosphorus and 60 kg potash per hectare. If the soil is used exhaustively before the sowing of the crop then the dose of K should be increased to 100 kg/ha.


The Oilseed Programme of NARC has developed the following groundnut varieties for commercial cultivation:

BARD-699: it is a semi bunchy type variety with medium sized pods and has two seeds per pod. It is originated from Spain. It matures in 5-5-1/3 months and has a potential yield of 85-90 mounds per hectare. Is has about 52% oil contents and was released for cultivation in 1991.

BARD-479: this variety has a growth habit similar to runner plants. It has two seeds per pod and matures in about 5-1/3 to 6 months. Its yield potential is nearly 100 mounds per hectare having 51% oil contents. It was approved for cultivation in 1993.

BARD-92-E: it is an early maturing variety approximately in 4 to 4-1/3 months. This variety is best fit in crop rotation with wheat in rainfed areas of Pakistan. Its potential yield is 62 mounds per hectare. It was also released for cultivation in 1993.

Golden: This variety was approved for commercial cultivation in 2002. Its potential yield at research stations is 4100 kg ha-1 but the farmers are taking only 2413 kg ha-1 (Naeem Ud Din et al., 2009). A distinct character of this variety is the resistance against diseases. Its pods shell color is reddish which distinguishes it from all other approved varieties.

Harvesting and threshing:

Most of the farmers in the country are using Farm Machinery Institute. NARC, Islamabad designed digger blade and thresher for the harvest and threshing of the crop, however, some progressive farmers are also using groundnut digger cum inverter and combine harvester with pickup facility.

In some cases, manual groundnut digging and hand picking of pods is also practiced. This method is labor intensive and is a very slow method so farmers are shifting to the mechanized harvesting of the crop.


Groundnut shelling is mostly done manually in Pakistan as the shelling machinery is not available. Manual shelling needs more time and labor as compared to the mechanized shelling. A survey was carried out by FMI in 2004 which gave the estimate that one individual can shell approximately 4 kg groundnut pods in a day (Shahid 2005). Only a few farmers are using mechanical shellers in Pakistan.

Plant protection:

Weeds infestation in the crops is a major problem. In irrigated areas, several practices are done to control weeds but in rainfed areas, farmers usually do not emphasize on the control of weeds. It has been estimated that weeds can damage the groundnut crop 30-70%. In various research stations and farmers’ fields trials, it has been revealed that yield of groundnut can be increased 20-60% if the weeds are controlled.

Major weeds of groundnut crop are:

S. No. Local name Botanical name Chemical Control Amount per acre

1. Dela Cyprus rotundus Round up 600-1900 ml

2. Barron Sorghum helepens -do- -do-

3. Khabbal Cynodon dactylon -do- -do-

4. Lelhi Convolvulus arvensis Dual Gold 800-1000 ml

5. Swaank Echinochola colonum Stomp 1.5 kg

6. Taandla

Digera muricata -do- -do-

7. Chandri Brachairia reptan -do- -do-

8. Pohli Carthamus oxycantha Fusilade (Fluaizifop butye) -do-

9. Kulfa Portulaca oriacae -do- -do-

10. Madhaana ghaas Dactyloctenium aegypticum -do- -do-

Round up should be sprayed after the core irrigation (Rauni) when weeds emerge.

Source: Taildaar faslon main jarri bootiyan aur un k tadaruk k tareeqy (PARC)


There are two main groups of weed control methods,

1. Indirect control method

2. Direct control method

1. Indirect control methods:

Indirect control methods are those methods which are used against a particular weed species but have general effect on all the weeds. These methods do not completely control the weeds but reduce the density of the weeds at economic threshold level*. These indirect methods can be divided into following methods:

i. Preventive Method

ii. Cultural and Ecological Method

i. Preventive methods:

These methods are easy, economical and lead to sustainability as compared to other methods. In these methods, existing and new weeds introduction to field is controlled. These methods include:

• Use of weed free seed

• Tillage implements should be free of weed seeds or propagules.

• Waterways and canals should be free of weeds as if weeds are there then the seeds of weeds may be transported to the field by water.

• Controlled grazing of livestock as livestock can be a carrier of weed seeds and propagules

• Certain weed seeds are not even digested by livestock and come out of anhimal body with the excreta, this excreta is used as farmyard manure and weed seeds are transferred to fields.

• Quarantine departments should be active while transporting the seed from one region to another as several weeds are transferred by this method. E.g. parthenium weed is brought by Afghani people and this weed has developed itself upto a level of bnoxious weed.

ii. Cultural And Ecological Methods:

Cultural and ecological methods are discussed together as these are interconnected. Any cultural practice will lead to an ecological change. These methods include the following strategies:

a. Tillage practices

  • Ø Primary tillage is compulsory to expose the existing weed seeds to the sunlight
  • Ø During the seed bed preparation, tillage implement like rotavator can be used to crush the weeds species and seeds
  • Ø

b. Crop rotation

c. Allelopathy is a new research area in Pakistan and has large potential to control weeds.

d. Method of plantation should be chosen which is best against weeds.

e. Plant population should be appropriate which gives less space for weeds to survive.

f. Mulching can also be done to suppress the weeds.

Apart from these practices, adjusting the seed rate, planting time and variety selection can be favorable to reduce the weeds.

2. Direct control method

These methods include the ways to kill or reduce the weeds when weeds have emerged. These methods are recommended at particular stage of the weed but mostly at the seedling stage of the weeds. Following are various direct control methods.

i. Manual Control

ii. Mechanical Control

iii. Biological Control

iv. Chemical Control

i. Manual methods:

These methods include uprooting the weeds by hands, khurpa or kasola and cutting the weeds with sickle or kassi. This method is very good at small level but at the large level it is too difficult to control the weeds as more labor and time is needed.

ii. Mechanical methods:

Use of different tillage implements is done to control the weeds. In Pakistan, bar harrows are mostly used. However, in some research stations or the progressive farmers are also using some weeders to remove the weeds from the field.

iii. Biological Methods:

Biological control methods are being emphasized these days in the whole world. These methods include the use of living things against the living things. Several micro-organisms, insects and birds have been identified to control the weeds.

So far, the biological control approach has not been very successful with agriculture crops. However, it has been successful in pastures and to some extent in aquatic conditions. The control of Opuntia in Australia, Hypericum in mainland USA, and Lantana Camara and Tribulus in Hawaii are examples of successful biological weed control in pastures (Mercado 1979). Chang Toung and Muchsin (1975) in Indonesia have reported the control of water hyacinth and Salvinia molesta by the grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon Val.) in aquatic conditions.A recent approach in biological control is the use of pathogens or their chemistries to develop herbicides. Bialophos and Glufosinate are two such commercial herbicide products (Duke and Lydon 1987).

iv. Chemical Methods:

Chemical methods are used as a last option in various developed countries but in the developing countries, still herbicides and weedicides are being used in large quantities which are polluting our environment due to residual effect. However, this is the most improved weed control method and can be used to control approximately every type of weed species.

Certain chemicals recommended for weed control are:

  • Atlantis
  • Buctril Super
  • Puma Super
  • Sencor
  • Sunstar Gold
  • Insect Pests of groundnut crop
  • Termites (Odontotermes spp)

The termites are often present in sandy soils. Termites feed on dead plant materials usually but can also damage underground parts of the crops. These insects live in family like ants. The female lays eggs inside the plants or in the soil. Termites damage the plant by eating the roots from inside. These insects make holes in the roots so consequently plant is killed. By eating the nut shells, termites make the entrance of Aspergillus spp. inside the nuts.


• Destroying the colony of the termits, most importantly the queen of the termites.

• Farmyard manure should be incorporated when it is fully rotten.

• Earlier harvesting when the pods are matured.

• Furadan granules (3 G or 10 g) should be applied to control the termites chemically.

Aphids (Aphis craccivora)

Aphids are very small insects having light greenish color. The adults are usually wingless but some may have wings. Reproduction rate of the aphids is very fast. Aphids suck the cell sap from the young and soft parts of the plants. Apart from sucking the cell saps, aphids also excrete honeydew which causes fungus growth on the leaves. Aphids are also vectors of viruses. Several insecticides like dimecron, Thiodon can be sprayed at the rate of 1 litre per hectare after mixing with 50 gallons of water.

Red Hairy caterpillars (Amsacta albistriga)

These caterpillars are the larvae of brownish white moths. The larvae are light brownish in color which then turns to red when they are grown up and the body is covered with hair. These caterpillars damage the crop by eating up the leaves which consequently results in shedding of leaves. These larvae move from one field to another so is very devastating. After one month of feeding, these larvae burrow in undisturbed soil. This insect is very abundant in groundnut growing areas of upper Punjab and KPK. Its control can be done by insecticides such as dimecron at the rate of 1 kg per hectare, Buldock and Karate at the rate of 250 g per hectare.

Diseases of groundnut:

Plant pathogenic diseases problem is not much common in Pakistan. Disease incidence in Pakistan is not generally considered as major threat to the crops as it is at a small scale in the country. Most of the diseases in plants occur when there is more humidity in the atmosphere. So after the onset of Monson, plant pathogens can grow and cause the diseases. In groundnut crop, major diseases are as follows.

Early and Late leaf spots:

In the early growth stages of groundnut, 15-25 days after sowing, early leaf spots can be seen if there is attack of pathogen Cercospora arachidicola. In this disease, the lower leaves of the plant are attacked and the leaves upper surface turns to light yellow color. After some days, if the disease is prevalent then leaves become yellowish leading to necrosis of the plant which can be said as late leaf spots caused by Phaeoisariopsis personata. When the necrosis of the leaves happen, it consequently leads to shedding of the leaves. Ultimately, lesser leaves result in less photosynthesis and low yield.

• These leaf spots can be controlled by growing resistant varieties and chemically. The fungicides like Chlorothalonil (Daconil) and Dithane M-45 can be used to control these leaf spots.

Seed rot and seedling blight:

Seeds are attacked in this disease if germination is delayed due to any reason. The seeds are rotten and make a black mass just like the spores of fungus. Lack or excess of water in the soil after the sowing of the crop lead to the incidence of this disease. It can be controlled by treating the seed with proper fungicides.


Aspergillus genus of the fungi attacks the stored groundnut and produces this toxin aflatoxin. Aflatoxin as by its name is very toxic to animals and human beings. It is also known as carcinogenic. High humidity favors this disease.

Vertebrate pests of groundnut crop

The animals which have their backbone are called as vertebrates. There are several vertebrates identified as serious pests of groundnut crop in Pakistan. These vertebrates are usually direct consumers of the plants so can be said as primary consumers.

Groundnut is emerging to be an important oilseed crop in Pakistan. Due to long growing season of this crop, it becomes susceptible to the vertebrate attack as these animals can get shelter in this crop easily. Low plant population is also a major problem in vertebrates attack as they can easily find place to attack. In Pakistan, the attack of these vertebrates’ starts in mid July and remains until the harvest of the crop.

Following vertebrates are identified as serious pests of groundnut:

  • Common name Scientific name
  • Lesser bandicoot rat Bandicota bengalensis
  • Short-tailed mole rat Nesokia indica
  • Indian gerbil Tatera indica
  • Indian crested porcupine Hystrix indica
  • Wild boar Sus scrofa
  • House and jungle crows Corvus splendens & C. macrorhynchos

Under Vertebrate Pest Control Project, Islamabad, a groundnut crop survey was carried out in 1986 which showed that overall damage done by the vertebrates was 5.3%. Out of this damage, about half the damage was caused by Lesser bandicoot rat. In early 1990s, one survey under the BARD project showed that about 77% of the farmers take the rodents as a problem in groundnut production while remaining 23% thought the rodents as serious pests to their crops. The survey also revealed that damage to the crop due to rats was 17%.

Lesser bandicoot rat:

It is commonly found field rat in Pakistan. It loves to live in moist conditions so is commonly found in irrigated areas but in rainfed areas wherever moisture is present, this rat can be found there. When the crops establish, the plant canopy covers the soil and moisture is conserved in the soil which makes suitable space for this rat.

It has hairs on its body which are dark brownish-grey in color. Its tail is free of hair usually and is smaller than its body.

It makes burrows in the groundnut crop which is its main habitat. It makes its burrows in the bunds at the border of the field. Through these burrows, the rats eat up the nuts and do not kill the plants. The mounds and burrows of these rats can be traced by finding the spindle-shaped excreta, empty groundnut shells and visible runaways.

Short tailed mole rat:

It is similar to the lesser bandicoot rat but has small size and tail. It also makes burrows in the soil and passes most of the time underground. It eats the underground parts of the plants including the roots, bulbs or tubers. Root crops are mainly susceptible to this type of rats. Unlike the bandicoot rats, these make their burrows in the grass covered bunds and make tunnels to reach the plants and start damaging the plants.

These rats damage the crop by eating the roots of the crops which consequently lead to the death of the plants and eating the nuts that lead to unproductive plants. These rats can be identified by the capsule shaped feces droppings which are mixed with the soil.

Indian gerbil:

It is also a medium sized rat and has its hind legs longer than other two rats discussed above. Its dorsal side of the body is brown and ventral side is white. Its tail is long and hairy and ends at a cluster of hair. This rat only eats the nuts of the crop but not kills the plants so its presence is not easily discovered by farmers.

Rat control measures:

Trapping: trapping can be done to control the rats in small and confined areas easily but to control the rats in large areas like field, it is not an easy task as many of the traps will be required which will be too expensive. Some modern rat trappers like gopher trap can be used but these are not available in Pakistan.

Chemical methods: chemical control is more preferable to control the rats. There are several rat killing baits available in Pakistan which can be used easily and conveniently in the fields. Fumigation of the burrows by poisonous fumigants is also recommended.

Cultural Methods: destroying the burrows, deep tillage and destroying the bunds at every season have been found effective ways to decrease or end the populations of rats.

Indian crested porcupine (Seh):

It is also a rodent although it is quite different in shape from rats. It can easily be recognized by the spines covering its body which are usually white and black in color. It also lives in burrows and lives in a family system. If its burrows are not disturbed, it can occupy the whole area in few years.

It damages the plants by destroying the roots. It also eats the nuts and exposes the soil very much. Its damage is much devastating as it can damage 30-40 plants in one night. Its presence can be witnessed by its foot prints or its spines shed from its body.


Porcupine can be controlled physically by shooting it or chemically. In the chemical control, location of the porcupine must be kept in mind. Then baiting and fumigation can be done to control it.

Wild boar:

It is an important pest in fields. It has thin legs, small and thick neck and deep body. Its mouth is tapering towards the end. Its body is covered with thick black and brownish hair.

Its mode of damage is by destroying the roots of the groundnut. Apart from destruction of the roots, it also eats the nuts of the crop alongwith the shells but it prefers to eat the nuts as these are sweet and soft. Even it passes from a field of groundnut; it can damage the plants which come across it. Only one wild boar can destroy 65 plants in one night. Its presence can easily be observed due to its passing tracks.


Wild boar can be controlled physically and chemically. As wild boar usually attacks at night so several traps can also be used. Hunting the boar with the help of dogs is a common practice in villages of central and lower Punjab. Different poison baits can also be used against these boars. Baits should be covered with milk cream or butter to attract the boars.

Desert hare:

It is often present in dry areas of the country as its name indicxates its habitat. It is a grey brown animal like a rabbit having long ears and a small tail. Its hind legs are longer than its fore legs which help it to run at a very good speed by taking long jumps like frog. It does not damage the plant or its roots but makes holes around the plants getting access to the nuts and eats the nuts not the shells.


Its control can be done by shooting, fencing and poisonous baits.


Crows directly damage the nuts of the crop. Crows do not detach the nut but penetrate their beak in the nut by making a hole and eat it up. Crows cannot dig the soil more but even than they get access to the nuts. In sandy areas, there is a large problem of crows because flocks of crows fly to the fields for search of food and can eat upto 20 plants’ nuts in small time.


Loud exploders, scarecrow statues of human and reflective tapes are used to scare the crows.

Constraints in production of groundnut:

Rhizobial inoculation technology in the groundnut field is not very common in Pakistan. This is due to lack of education in the farmers and the field staff. Apart from this, technology transfer to the farmers is a major constraint in crop production in Pakistan (Aslam et al., 2000). Irregular rainfall pattern of the country leads to lack of moisture at the critical stages of the crop so as a result, decrease in the yield is observed. This lack in moisture causes hard soil surface at peg penetration which consequently causes problems in yield reduction and harvest of the crop (Khan et al., 1996). Lack of good quality and certified seed is also a major problem in groundnut. Plant protection, lack of short duration cultivars, processing and marketing problems and high harvest investment and losses of the groundnut crop are also of a major concern.


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Muhammad Ramzan Rafique
Muhammad Ramzan Rafique

I am from a small town Chichawatni, Sahiwal, Punjab , Pakistan, studied from University of Agriculture Faisalabad, on my mission to explore world I am in Denmark these days..

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