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New infographic highlights the impact of peanuts

The Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab has created another graphic in a series meant to promote peanut consumption and highlight best practices for growing processing and testing peanuts.

The latest graphic – titled “Impactful Peanuts” – focuses on the numerous products made from peanut, and how virtually every part of the plant can be used to benefit the farmer and consumer. The latest graphic is available for download, along with earlier "One Handful", "Controlling Aflatoxins" and "Detecting Mycotoxins" graphics.

Peanuts are a nutritious snack and add healthy protein to the diets of people around the world, but peanut oil also can easily be made into a biodiesel (peanut oil actually powered the first steam engine) and the stalks and leaves are tasty, nutritious fodder for livestock.

But peanuts also are an important source of income for women, who use the money for household expenses and to pay their children’s school tuition.

Read more about the Impactful Peanuts infographic or download a copy.


Field days show Ugandan farmers hope in disease-resistant varieties

Planting an unimproved variety of peanut in Uganda was a recipe for disaster this year. Groundnut rosette disease (GRD), an aphid-borne virus that causes mottling and affects much of sub-Saharan Africa, took 80% to 100% of the yield in some fields planted with a traditional variety.

The difficult season made farmers even more interested in two recent field-day events held in Uganda, where they could see the results coming from fields planted with improved varieties resistant to GRD.

One woman, a farmer named Adong Christine borrowed $7,000 from a bank and planted 20 acres with a local variety. At the end of the season, she harvested just two bags of peanuts (from a potential 400 bags) and could not repay the loan.

Read more about the rough disease season and the promise that improved varieties brings.


Mozambican researchers return to national program with grad degrees

Jacinta De Carvalho and Rita Valentim Manjonda left their jobs with the Mozambique Agricultural Research Institute two years ago for a chance to study agronomy at Kohn Kaen University in Thailand, an institution with a history working with the U.S. peanut innovation program.

They returned home in August and hope that their research into how Valencia peanut varieties respond to drought will help breeders to develop varieties that are more resilient in challenging climates.

Learn more about these women and the knowledge they bring home to Moz.


Extension agent uses her master's research to answer farmers' questions

Lydia Mkandawire is a farmer and a teacher and a scientist.

Those occupations come together in her work as an agricultural extension agent, but a few years ago she realized she didn’t always know what advice was best for the farmers in her region of central Malawi. So, she decided to return to school for a master’s degree, and find the answers she needed.

“My job is to disseminate the agricultural technologies or new research findings to farmers so that farmers improve their agricultural productivity,” she said. “I found myself to have a gap in most agricultural technologies. This is what motivated me to go for a higher degree.”

Over the past two years, with support from the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, Mkandawire has completed coursework for a master’s degree at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, while performing peanut field trials on farms owned by Exagris, a commercial seed producer in Malawi.

Read more about Mkandawire's work.


Adding a processing step could reduce contamination in groundnut flour

Tiwonge Longwe already was interested in nutrition when her studies led her to the conclusion that improving food processing might give her the chance to impact the most people.

“As I was pursuing my undergraduate degree in Nutrition and Food Science, I developed keen interest in physico-chemistry of food and understanding the processing of food. With time, the interest grew stronger and I decided to major in Food Science and Technology,” said Longwe, a 24-year-old student supported by the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab. She returned to the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources in her home country of Malawi to pursue a master’s degree.

Peanuts and other crops, such as maize, are susceptible to the type of mold that produces aflatoxin, a carcinogenic substance that also is linked to childhood stunting and wasting. Peanut flour – or nsinjiro as it is known in Malawi – may contain particularly high levels of aflatoxin because discolored or moldy nuts that are unacceptable for other products are often used as a raw material and milling can lead to cross contamination and increase of aflatoxin in the final product.

Find what Longwe found about blanching to limit aflatoxin contamination.


Malawian grad students present at APRES

Several master’s degree students from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources attended the 49th annual American Peanut Research and Education Society meeting recently in Albuquerque, N.M., with Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab support.

The Malawian student researchers presented their findings in agronomy, engineering and food science disciplines to meeting attendees. Aggrey Gama, a Malawian food scientist working toward a doctorate at the University of Georgia with PMIL support, also presented at the meeting.

Last year, several graduate students from Ghana presented at the APRES meeting held in Clearwater, Fla.

See more of the students presenting their findings.