Improving and safeguarding peanut production and processing to enhance livelihoods and health
Peanuts are a major source of protein and energy that provide nutrition and income to millions of smallholders in developing countries. Ninety percent of peanut production takes place on small farms and is managed mostly by women. Similarly, ninety percent of peanuts are eaten in the countries producing them. Peanuts are part of daily household diets and an inexpensive protein source. Developing the peanut sector is a targeted way to improve household nutrition as well as create economic opportunities for women in many countries.
Peanuts are twenty-seven percent protein. Its oil has qualities similar to olive oil. They have a low glycemic index, meaning that peanut consumption does not result in spikes in blood sugar levels. These two factors make peanuts a key to combating obesity, since when people eat more peanuts and peanut butter, they do not snack as frequently and can control their weight more effectively. Peanuts also contain antioxidants. These characteristics combine to make peanuts an excellent ingredient for emergency Ready To Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs).
A significant challenge to increasing peanut sales lies in solving the problems of contamination by aflatoxin both in the field and in storage. This type of mold grows on peanuts when moisture levels are poorly controlled. Peanut CRSP research has documented that aflatoxin (and other mycotoxins) can suppress immune systems, making people more susceptible to diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis as well as liver cancer. Children born from mothers exposed to high levels of mycotoxins are more likely to be underweight.