PMIL in Zambia

PMIL researchers in Zambia and the U.S., are working to find ways to grow, harvest and process peanuts in order to minimize contamination by aflatoxins, natural chemicals that are produced by mold that can cause stunting, cancer and even death, in humans and livestock.

The interventions being tested include the use of soil amendments such as biochar and gypsum, use of risk indices to better predict potential aflatoxin problems, drying techniques and new options for storage, and effects of processing techniques on aflatoxin contamination in peanut flour, oil, butter or other products.


By improving the yield and quality of peanuts – or groundnuts as they are called in much of Africa – farmers can increase the food supply in the country and facilitate the regional and international trade of peanuts, which have often been limited due to aflatoxin contamination.

About Zambia

Zambia, in southern Africa, is a landlocked country of rugged terrain and diverse wildlife. Nearly 15 million people live in the country, which counts mining as its main industry.


Nearly 16 million people live in Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa. About 68% of Zambians live below the poverty line – 78% in rural areas where most people are subsistence farmers.


Classified as a humid, subtropical climate, Zambia has two main seasons: the rainy season (November to April) and the dry season (May to October/November). Rainfall averages from 70-120 cm per year (28-47 in). Average daily temperatures range from as high as 28-35° C (82-95° F) to as low as 6-12° C (43-54° F).


A large part of the Zambian diet consists of cereals, particularly maize, followed by starchy roots and small amounts of fruits and vegetables. The food supply is not adequate and food insecurity is widespread.

The dependence on maize also creates a precarious situation when drought occurs.

Raw peanut powder is used in many Zambian foods. For example, bala lotendela is porridge cooked with peanut powder. Mpunga wotendela is rice cooked with peanut powder.

Peanut Production

Peanuts, called groundnuts in Zambia, are the second largest crop in the country, after maize, and account for nearly 9% of the cultivated land in the country.

Groundnuts are produced by about half the rural smallholders in Zambia, approximately 700,000 farmers.

Country Area Harvested Yield Production
  Acres Hectares Lb/Acre Kg/Hectare Tons Metric Tonnes
Zambia 512,123 207,249 459 515 117,718 106,792
United States 1,040,313 421,000 4,011 4,496 2,086,675 1,893,000
Table Data Source (FAOSTAT, 2013)          

Improving the yield Zambian farmers get from their land would help the smallholder farmers’ bottom line and provide nutritious food for malnourished children.

Local Peanut Facts