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Agri Overview

Marketing of groundnut crop                                                    Home
By Dr Ali Muhammad Khushk & Aslam Memon

Groundnut in Pakistan is cultivated in Punjab, the NWFP, and Sindh. In Sindh it is grown on limited areas under irrigated conditions. This crop can be grown in areas where precipitation is 50-90cm. Sandy soils are more suitable for it.

Marketing of groundnut crop Groundnut contains 50 per cent edible oil and 25 per cent carbohydrates. It also contains some quantity of soluble water, fibres and minerals. This can easily cover the gap between demand and supply of edible oil. It is versatile and can be used in wide range of products.

Timely harvesting of groundnut is an important factor for getting higher yields like other crops. The total pod production increases with growth period, but harvested yield reach peak and then decline due to field losses at the longer growth period.

Early digging results in lower maturity and lower yield. Late digging results in more leftover losses in the soil and high digging cost due to dry and hard soil. The optimum time is determined by digging a few plants from the field and counting the mature pods. Harvesting should be started when 70-75 per cent pods are mature.

After harvesting, the produce is cured by sun drying for about 6-8 days to maintain the desirable flavour and quality. At the time of digging, pods contain about 40-50 per cent moisture which should be reduced to 8-10 per cent by curing for safe storage.

Well dried cleaned pods should be properly stored. Excessive humidity in the store favours the fungus growth on the pods which can damage the seed. During survey groundnut growers reported that after harvesting they put their product in open plot for five to six days for drying.

Groundnut harvesting consists of two operations viz., lifting of vines with pods intact from the soil and separating of pods from the vines. Once groundnut is dug and collected pods must be separated from vines by hand or beaten and winnowed. This whole process is expensive, time consuming and labour intensive. Profit can be enhanced by mechanizing this process and reducing the cost of production. For this purpose, a PTO driven FMI thresher, commercially available with local manufacturers, can be used.

Shelling of the pods is done at intermediate stages as the produce reaches the millers and exporters in the form of kernels. Shelling reduces volume and transport charges but it is disadvantageous to market the kernels as they easily and quickly undergo deterioration and spoilage. Grading of groundnut is a prerequisite before mechanical shelling to keep the percentage of kernel breakage to a minimum.

Groundnut is harvested seasonally, but its consumption is continuous. The market value of the produce is generally low at harvesting time. So the grower needs storage facility to hold a portion of produce to meet the feed and seed requirements in addition of selling surplus produce when the marketing price is favourable.

Traders and cooperatives at market need storage structures to hold produce when the transport facility is inadequate. The government also needs storage structures to maintain buffer reserves to offset the effects produced by the vagaries of nature. Hence, there is a necessity to store the produce.

Like most other crops, groundnuts are semi perishable and their quality during storage can be deteriorated through microbial proliferation, insect and rodent infestation, loss of flavour, viability and rancidity due to biochemical changes as well as absorption of certain odours and chemicals.

Although clean and sound groundnuts can be stored for several years under suitable storage conditions, serious losses in quality may result when groundnuts are dried below seven per cent seed moisture content. The studies indicated that the unshelled ground nut in bulk could be stored best at about 7.5 per cent seed moisture content (w.b) at 100C.

At these storage conditions, good quality unshelled groundnuts can be stored for at least one storage season (about 10 months) without significant loss in quality.

When the groundnut is threshed and dried, it is transported from the field to store houses by bullock carts or tractors by the growers. Sometimes if the market price is favourable the produce is disposed to the traders soon after drying.

The disposal of the produce, either at the village or at the market yard is closely connected with financial needs of the growers and sometimes indebtedness. The traders on purchasing transport the produce to godown, or shops for sale to consumers mainly through trucks and lorry. If the produce is not properly bagged and handled, it will sustain some losses during transportation.

In general most producers sell the grains at their door steps in villages, to avoid transport. At village level defective measures and weights are used by traders and the prices paid to farmers are much lower than the regulated market rates.

In regulated markets some amenities are provided to growers to secure maximum value for their produce. In market yards several methods like cover system, open system and auction system are adopted depending on the type of produce sold. Since the rural banking system is improved the farmers are out of the clutches of greedy private money lenders. In case of groundnut, indirect marketing system is prevalent in the study area. Most arrivals are spread over all the four quarters of the marketing year during October.

Growers who are not capable of holding the produce and need cash bring their produce to the market immediately. They usually visit local and wholesale markets taking information about the prices. It is not sold through action or commission agent.

It has been observed that almost the entire function of storage of groundnut pods for sustaining the crushing operation is undertaken by the Padhy holders. They buy the stock and sell it to traders who come from different wholesale markets as they have contacts in wholesale markets.

Assembly market is often situated close to farm gate, generally in small towns. Shopkeepers, traders and retailers participate as buyers in these markets. Most of the transactions involve in small quantities. Traders in assembly market are not approved by any government agency, although in some cases, town committee (created by the local government) charges an entry fee from traders. For large quantities, farmers prefer to go to wholesale market.

Wholesale market is usually located in a district town or a major divisional town. These markets are the main assembly centres for fruit and vegetable surplus of surrounding areas. Wholesale market has better storage, transportation, communication and working condition for both buyers and sellers than those in assembly market.

In these markets, traders who hold an official permit for their activities have built permanent offices and auction floor. Almost every trader (commission agent) has sufficient space in the market to store the produce for few days (free of cost).

Agricultural marketing channels are concerned with the concept of ‘marketable’ and ‘marketed’ surplus of farm commodities that enter the process of circulation and exchange. The purpose of exchange of commodities for money and vice versa is to have access to a variety of products. Here, agricultural marketing channels refer to the outlets or routes through which commodities pass to reach to final consumer.

Courtesy: DAWN

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