Groundnut Breeding III

Lead Organization:

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Partner Organizations:

National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM), Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), Naliendele Agricultural Research Institute, Sokoine University og Agriculture

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






Groundnut (also known as peanut) is an important crop in areas with relatively low rainfall and is grown by smallholder farmers for both subsistence and cash. The seed is highly nutritious and is widely used in complementary feeding programs to improve child health. The cultivated area of groundnuts is expanding in Malawi and Tanzania, but farmer access to quality seed is limited. Productivity is low due to the use of poor quality seed, unimproved varieties, and sub-optimal crop management practices. Yields and seed quality are also affected by pests and diseases. The presence of aflatoxin poses a serious threat to human health and renders the crop unsaleable in export markets. There is evidence that exposure to aflatoxin contributes to stunted growth in young children and rates of stunting in Malawi and Tanzania remain very high.

This third phase aims to continue to address productivity constraints by further varietal development leading to the release of new disease-resistant varieties with tolerance to drought and resistance to colonization by the fungus (Aspergillus) that produces aflatoxin. A further breeding objective is to develop varieties with high oil content and high levels of oleic acid, which has added benefits for human health. Productivity gains will be enhanced by the testing and promotion of improved crop management practices with a particular focus on intercropping with pigeon pea and maize. The project also seeks to develop and promote more effective management of aflatoxin through the production and dissemination of simple identification kits and improved communication products.

Grant Aims:

  • Develop and deploy nutrient dense and resilient genotypes to areas with endemic biotic and abiotic stress
  • Test and promote legume-legume and legume cereal intensification technologies for smallholder based cropping systems
  • Develop aflatoxin mitigation decision-making tools for policy and low aflatoxin dietary options for households
  • Develop community awareness on aflatoxin and nutrition

Outputs and Outcomes:

In Malawi, six farmer field days were conducted in Mchinji (2), Mzimba (2) and Nkhotakota (2) in Malawi involving 752 people (326 women and 426 men). These demonstrations focused on validating and promoting technologies on increasing plant populations and options for the management of aflatoxin. An initial assessment of level of adoption in Malawi shows that out of 67 farmers’ fields visited in the three Districts, 59 farmers had followed the recommended production practices. From the initial 7.5 tons basic seed investment for varieties Nsinjiro, Kakoma, CG 7 and Chitala invested in Mchinji, Mzimba and Nkhotakota the number of beneficiaries has grown from 1000 in 60 seed banks to 15,000 forming 314 seed banks to date. In this reporting period, over 65 tons of Quality Declared Seed were produced. Initial evaluation in these project areas shows that over 70% of the groundnut crop is produced from improved varieties (Nsinjiro, CG 7 and JL 24) compared to about 26% of baseline. Nearly 33,000 farmers have been reached with improved seed in the three districts. Groundnut Rosette Disease can severely impact groundnut yields, challenging smallholder farmer’ livelihoods.

To learn more about the transmission and management practices for this virus visit