Bambara beans also known as bambara groundnuts has their origin in West Africa specifically in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria. In Ghana, many people call it Aborboi. In other jurisdictions, it is called congo goober, ground beans, hog-peanut, earth pea, bambarra groundnut, congo earth pea, madagascar groundnut but it is the same bambara beans known to many with a botanical name (vigna subterranean).
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Ecology And Climatic Requirements:
The plant thrive well in sandy soil with a PH of 5 and 6.5. The texture of the soil should be light with good drainage as water logging destroys the nuts.Bambara plant grows well in the climate of most parts of Sub-Sahara Africa with temperatures of 19-30 degree centigrade.
These groundnuts are highly resistant to draught as they do not require high rainfall for them to grow and produce.When planting bambara plant, one does not need to set a piece of land aside as they flourish even when intercropped with other food crops such as sorghum, maize, cassava and millet.
Varieties Of Bambara Beans:
The crop is indigenous to sub-Sahara Africa and there has been limited research into developing new varieties so all varieties are considered to be traditional.
There Are Seven Varieties Of Bambara Groundnut:
Black early maturing, usually small to medium-sized kernels. Mainly one-seeded
Red late maturing, kernels are large. A good yielder, however, it is prone to rotting onsite
Cream or black eye, a large kernel and a good yielded
Brown eye or Cream, a moderate kernel and a good yielder
Cream or no eye, very small pods and kernels. It mainly produces one seed and yields are lower.
Speckled Purple colour predominates , kernels are small and pods are mainly one-seeded.
Brown, continuous variation between light and dark brown. Kernels are of medium to large size.
Site Selection For Bambara Beans:
Bambara beans will grow on any well-drained soil, but light, sandy loams with a pH of 5,0 to 6,5 are most suitable. The crop does well on poor soil which is low in nutrients.
Abundance of nitrogen favors vegetative growth.
Land Preparation of Bambara Beans:
Bambara beans give the best yields on a deeply ploughed field with a fine seedbed.
A level seedbed is best but it can be planted on ridges when very wet conditions prevail.
Seed Treatment of Bambara Beans:
Large seeds are recommended
The seed should be treated with a fungicide.
Seed vitality deteriorates after shelling, and
Shelling should therefore be done prior to planting.
Germination takes 7 to 15 day
Planting Bambara Beans:
Planters with the correct plates can be used. In Africa a hoe is used to plant seed in the traditional way. It is usually sown and covered with a harrow.
In conditions of high moisture levels and in heavy soils (which cannot be recommended) seed can be planted 2, 5 to 3,0 cm deep and 5,0 to 7,5 cm in sandy soil
Fertilizer Application Of Bambara Beans:
When nitrogen content is high in the soil, bambara groundnut usually produces mostly only a few pods and seeds on the top surface. It is always advisable to conduct soil tests and apply fertiliser according to the recommended rates.
Weed control is done mechanically or by hand. Care should be taken when weeding around the plant, especially at flowering as the flower stalks are fragile and may break with rough handling
Diseases And Pests:
Piezotrachelu ugandum (moth beetle) It damages the developing pods of bambara beans
Larvae of the genus rivellia also causes damages to the root of tthe bambara beans
Harvesting Of Bambara Beans
Small areas are harvested by hand as the plants turn yellow or die, or when about 80 % of the pods have matured.
Large areas should be harvested when the plants wilt or turn yellow or when about 80 % of the pods have matured. The tap root can be cut with a groundnut harvester or ploughed out, or the beans can be lifted or hoed out.
The pods break off very easily and up to half of the pods can remain in the soil and have to be collected by hand. After the plants have been cut they can be left for a day or two after which they can be stacked in wind rows to dry. The pods can be picked by hand or by using a commercial groundnut picker. The plants must be handled with care to reduce pod loss.
Storage Of Bambara Beans:
Processing and storage methods are still traditional. The pods, which normally develop underground, are harvested by manually pulling up the plant with attendant losses.
Sun drying of pods is mainly practiced and shelling is accomplished by either pouring into a jute or hessian bag and beating the pods with stick, pounding using pestle and mortar or cracking with stone on a slab. In some instances, manual treading of the pods on a flat surface is used to achieve shelling. The pods or seeds are stored in pots, bags, and drums or in local granaries