Saturday, January 1, 2022

Groundnuts: Origin and history

Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea L.) are believed to have originated in Central American region from where they spread to other parts of the world. Early explorers found it cultivated extensively in both Mesoamerica and South America.

The history of peanut dates back to the times of the ancient Incas of Peru. The earliest archaeological records of peanut in cultivation are from Peru, dated 3750-3900 years before present (BP).

Earliest domestication occurred probably first took place in the valleys of the Parana and Paraguay river systems in the Gran Chaco area of South America.

Peanuts were widely dispersed through South and Central America by the time Europeans reached the continent, probably by the Arawak Indians.

They were the first to cultivate wild peanut and offered them to the sun God as part of their religious ceremonials. They used to call peanuts as ynchic.

The term Arachis is derived from the Greek word "arachos", meaning a weed, and hypogaea, meaning underground chamber, i.e. in botanical terms, a weed with fruits produced below the soil surface.

Peanut could have spread to the old world only after the Spanish and Portugae colonization of South America.

The Spanish probably introduced the Virginia type to Mexico, via The Philippines, in the sixteenth century. The Portuguese then took it to Africa, and later to India, via Brazil. Virginia types apparently reached the Southeast US with the slave trade.

The modern history of peanut popularization began with the civil war of the 1860s in America. George Washington Carver who is known as the “father of peanut industry” as he developed more than three hundred products derived from the peanut.
Groundnuts: Origin and history

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