Do you wish to learn the step by step process of cassava farming?
Let’s say you are a cassava farmer and you wish to diagnose your cassava farm to know whether you are doing the right thing.
Whichever category you fall under, this article will help you achieve success.
When you carefully apply the tips in this article, you will begin to get a better yield from your cassava plantation.
Cassava farming business is a very lucrative agribusiness in Nigeria.
You can’t afford to be in Nigeria and not want to start cultivating cassava immediately after reading this cassava farming guide.
If your intention is to learn how to make money from cassava farming you will get more than enough tips from this guide.
By the end of this article, you will get enough knowledge about cassava farming business that will make you start farming cassava right away.
In addition to this cassava farming guide, you will learn the different pests and diseases that affect cassava and lower your cassava yield.
You will also get to explore the important health benefits of cassava and much more.
Table of Contents
- How to start a cassava farming business
- Uses of Cassava
- Cassava Farming Process
- Is cassava farming profitable?
- Cassava Diseases and Pests
How to start a cassava farming business
Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a universal crop that is of great importance because of its many uses.
Little wonder the demand for cassava is high both in local and international markets, thereby making the business of cassava farming and processing very profitable.
Cassava farming is a profitable agribusiness in Nigeria.
However, you need to make some basic decisions before investing in the business.
You must also think about creating a cassava farming business plan.
This will prevent you from making mistakes along the line.
The cassava farming process explained in this article will guide you step by step, showing you how to successfully grow cassava from land preparation to harvest.
You can make more money by processing cassava into other products.
For instance, you can learn how to process cassava into garri and make huge money from selling the garri.
If you need the motivation to start your own cassava farming business in Nigeria, then watch the video at the end of this article.
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Uses of Cassava
As stated earlier, cassava has many uses, and it cut across several production industries. Cassava has gained wide usage in industries for the production of paper, ethanol, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, starch, and flour.
Nowadays, cassava flour is being encouraged to be used in the production of bread, doughnuts and other confectioneries.
Cassava can also be processed into fufu and ‘garri’; a popular food among many Nigerians.
Not only is the root of cassava important for the production of food, but its leaves can also be used as a vegetable for soup or as feed for sheep, goats, snails, and cattle.
Health Benefits Of Cassava
- Source of vitamins and minerals: Cassava roots are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins such as manganese, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and Iron. These vitamins and minerals are important for the healthy development of the body.
- Rich in fibres and dietary fibre: If you want to prevent constipation, eat more cassava. The fibres and dietary fibres in cassava help to free up the bowels and prevent constipation.
- Provides energy: We eat food to have the energy to do work. Eating cassava which is high in carbohydrates content can provide a lot of energy to the body.
- Helps to achieve weight loss: Eating cassava can fill your stomach very easily. As a result, it is a helpful diet in weight management programs.
- Prevents cancer: Eating of cassava regularly prevents one from various types of cancer.
- Enhances digestion: The presence of high fibre and dietary fibre in cassava enhances a good digestive system.
- Cassava helps in treating diarrhoea, and the rheumatic diseases.
- Consumption of cassava is beneficial for good health such as eyes, hair and skin.
- Cassava is used as a home remedy for curing headaches and fever.
- Cassava enhances fast recovery of wounds.
- It is helpful in boosting the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
- Constant consumption of cassava helps to propagate good nerve and brain health.
Cassava Farming Process
Cassava does very well in most parts of West Africa like Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Benin Republic, and Ghana.
No matter the location you find yourself, this cassava farming process remains the same.
Except in some locations with weather conditions that do not adequately support the successful growth of cassava.
Commercial cassava farming process involves simple farm operations which are as follows;
- Selection of a Suitable Land Cultivation of Cassava
- Land Preparation for Planting Cassava
- Planting the Cassava
- Weeding of Cassava Farm
- Fertilization of Cassava Plantation
- Harvesting the Cassava Tubers
Below are the details of the steps in the cassava farming process.
Step 1: Selection of a Suitable Land Cultivation of Cassava
The first step in the cassava farming process is the selection of suitable land for cultivation.
Cassava can be grown on most soils; however, the best soils are sandy clay loam that is well-drained without a fluctuating water table.
Cassava is a tropical crop, as a result, the most favourable growing conditions for cassava farming is in humid-warm climates.
The best temperature for growing cassava is between 25 – 29°C and precipitations of between 1000 – 1500 mm.
Ideally, these weather conditions should be evenly distributed throughout the year.
Step 2: Land Preparation for Planting Cassava
After successfully choosing a suitable site for cultivating your cassava, clear all bushes in the area immediately.
The reason for clearing the bushes around the area is to allow more sunlight to the soil.
Also, it helps to remove weeds and undergrowth which might otherwise compete with the growth of your cassava.
By clearing the bush in the selected area using the burning method, you will destroy disease vectors and other parasites present in the soil.
In addition, the layer of ashes left after burning may help to increase the quantity of potassium salt in the soil available to the growing plants.
Some people have argued that bush burning may also deplete soil nutrients.
They claim that as you are burning the bush, some essential nutrients will find their way out of the soil in the form of gases.
The best way to avoid depleting the soil through bush burning is to rotate the method of clearing the vegetation in your cassava farm with other methods.
As you are preparing the soil for cassava farming, mix the soil with dried animal manure or compost to increase soil fertility.
Your ridges or mounds should be at least 0.75m-1m apart.
However, this depends on the availability of planting materials and the fertility of the soil.
The cassava plant spacing and population also vary, depending on whether cassava is planted solely or in association with other crops.
Some experiments have shown ridging to produce relatively lower yields than flat cultivation, but the work of weeding and harvesting is greatly reduced by ridge planting.
For farmers in the rain forest and derived savanna zones where soils are prone to water-logging, planting on ridges or mounds is a general practice.
Step 3: Planting the Cassava
In planting stage of the cassava farming process, the first thing to do is to carefully select a cassava variety that you will grow.
Select varieties with multiple pest and disease resistance, high and stable root yields, and acceptable quality.
The optimal cassava plant spacing is 1 meter by 1 meter apart along each row and across ridges or mounds.
The remaining space between the cassava plants can be used you grow vegetables, maize, legumes, and other plants.
Inter-cropping cassava with other crops reduces the danger of loss caused by unfavourable weather and pests by spreading the risk across several plants with different vulnerabilities.
Ensure you are planting cassava stem cuttings you cut from plants that are up to 8 – 18 months old.
Use a sharp machete or cutlass to cut the stem.
Take care not to bruise the buds or otherwise damage the stem.
The cuttings should be about 20-25 cm in length with 5 or more nodes.
Cuttings from the base of the stalk are better planting materials than those from the top in terms of germination and plant yield.
How to Plant Cassava
There are three methods of planting cassava
- Horizontal method of planting cassava
- Vertical method of planting cassava
- The inclined method of planting cassava
Plant cuttings are buried 5 – 10 cm below the soil surface in dry climates and when mechanical planting is used.
Cuttings planted horizontally produce multiple stems and more tuberous roots but they are relatively smaller in size.
However, in loamy and rich soils the multiple stems and roots are at an advantage resulting in high yields.
Many people use this method during rainy days so that cuttings will not rot if the soil is constantly wet.
In contrast, under low rainfall conditions, vertical planting may result in dehydration of the cuttings.
Cuttings are inclined at 45o in semi-rainy areas, leaving 2-3 nodes above ground level.
The inclination of the stem and roots provide leverage which makes harvesting easier than in the other orientations.
Plant early in the morning or late afternoons when the sun is cool to prevent excess heat from heating the crop.
Replace all cuttings which did not bud after two weeks of planting.
Step 4: Weeding of Cassava Farm
An ancient Chinese philosopher once said, “Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.”
With this quote in mind; Thorough land preparation is key to reduced weeding activity.
Plant cassava cuttings early enough before weeds start emerging.
Cassava requires approximately 3 months of weed-free condition for optimum yield.
Use a contact and/or pre-emergent herbicide to control weeds for the first three months of growth.
Apply post-emergence herbicides as soon as weeds begin to emerge after the pre-emergence herbicide treatment.
Weed with hoes or adapted cutlasses 3 or more times depending on the type of weed.
On a large scale, use tractor operated weeders.
Step 5: Fertilization of Cassava Plantation
The kinds and quantities of fertilizers required by a cassava crop depend on the nature of the soil.
You may not need to fertilize the farmland immediately after clearing vegetation.
If you have grown cassava on the land for several years in succession or in a rotation, the soil nutrients deplete.
Therefore, fertilizer application becomes necessary.
Most farmers use different kinds of organic manures, such as cattle dung or chicken droppings to improve soil fertility.
Remains of leguminous plants, incorporated into the ground, also improve soil nutrients.
To further enhance the growth and overall yield of your farm, you will need to apply fertilizers. Use a good fertilizer to improve soil nutrient.
Test a sample of your soil to determine the fertilizer types and application rates that will be suitable for your farmland.
A fertilizer that is rich in potassium salt, favours the formation of starch in cassava.
Nitrogen and phosphorus, on the other hand, are essential for growth.
If the soil contains large quantities of absorbed nitrogen, the result will be like the fig tree in the Holy Bible that Jesus Christ saw on his way to Jericho, “having a heavy development of vegetative growth without a corresponding increase in root production.”
Apply the first dose of NPK fertilizer, in the ratio as determined by the soil test, 4-8 weeks after planting.
Place fertilizers 15cm to 45cm from the base of the stem in drill holes – 10cm to 15cm deep.
Placement of fertilizers in drill holes reduces fertilizer loss through runoff water.
A second dose of Fertilization of plants 16 weeks after planting significantly increases the yield of roots and enhances tuber bulking.
For effective absorption of fertilizer nutrients into the soil, do not apply fertilizer when the soil is dry.
Step 6: Harvesting the Cassava Tubers
How long it takes for cassava to reach maturity differs from one variety to another.
Cassava becomes mature for harvesting 8 – 18 months after planting.
However, the exact time for harvesting cassava depends on other factors such as the environment and the agricultural practices adopted.
How to harvest cassava roots
The best way to harvest cassava is to do it manually.
The stems of the cassava plant are first cut by hand, machete or machine.
When you are cutting the stems, leave a small portion of the stem at the base of the plant to serve as a handle to pull the storage root up.
Don’t damage the stems when you are cutting them.
Keep the stems you will plant next season.
Stack them together in small portions as you move.
Uproot the cassava immediately by pulling the plant from the soil while holding the small portion of stem you left when cutting the stem.
If the soil is too hard, use a hoe to dig out the part stuck in the soil so that the tubers will not break in the soil.
Cut off the tubers from the stem.
Be careful not to bruise the roots as you are harvesting otherwise, they will deteriorate very rapidly.
It is better to harvest roots only when you have a ready market to sell your cassava tubers to prevent them from decay and forming post-harvest waste.
You can process the cassava tuber immediately after harvesting.
Do not leave the tubers without processing them because they will begin to deteriorate within about 48 hours, and then begin to rot and decay.
Is cassava farming profitable?
Cassava farming is a very profitable business in Nigeria.
In fact, cassava farming is one of the greatest farming business to start.
Despite the challenges confronting agricultural activities in Nigeria today, cassava products are still in high demand.
I personally know a lot of people who are making millions from cassava farming.
As long as you have a steady growing market to sell you and you have a steady supply of cassava, you will always be in business.
How profitable is cassava farming?
The level of profits you make from cassava farming will depend on several factors.
You can make a profit from cassava farming by producing, processing or marketing cassava products.
At each of these levels, the profit margin differs.
How to profit from cassava farming
As stated earlier, there are different stages you can make a profit from cassava farming.
You can become a producer, a processor or a marketer.
I will be exposing the different ways you can profit from cassava farming shortly.
Stay with me.
Here are some of the ways to make money from your cassava farm.
1. Become a cassava producer:
Cassava producers make profits by producing raw cassava from their cassava plantation.
They produce large quantities of cassava from their cassava farm and sell to off-takers and other processing plants.
The larger the number of raw cassava orders they receive, the more profit they are able to make.
2. Own a cassava processing plant:
We all know that one can make a lot of money by converting raw agricultural produce into other products.
If you have the money to set up a cassava processing plant, you can make a lot of profit too.
Depending on the result of your market research, you can choose the types of cassava products you want to be producing.
This is why it is very important to have a cassava farming business plan.
A comprehensive cassava farming business plan will help you know what the market wants and how you are going to sell to them.
As the owner of a cassava processing plant, you can convert raw cassava into garri, flour, animal feed, starch etc.
By adding value to raw cassava, cassava processors are able to make a profit from cassava farming.
3. Become a marketer of cassava products:
Marketing of cassava products is, in fact, the simplest way to enter into cassava farming business.
As a marketer, you neither produce nor process cassava.
All you do is to make cassava products available to processing plants and consumers.
A cassava marketer makes profit by connecting producers with end-users.
To succeed as a marketer of cassava products, you must have a large network of steady buyers.
The more you can sell to, the more money you can make.
Other ways of making money from cassava farming
Sell the cassava stem out to make a profit and use the excess as firewood for cooking when they are dry.
Another way of making money from cassava farming business is by processing and selling off the young succulent leaves of cassava as a vegetable.
Also, sell off all the green leaves including the young parts of the stem or feed them to your livestock you keep any.
Cassava Diseases and Pests
Pests and diseases are one of the major reasons why many agribusinesses fail.
They increase the loss of cassava which should have contributed to your overall profit.
The major pests and diseases of cassava are:
- Thrips and Mites
- African cassava mosaic virus
- Cassava mealybug
- Herbivorous Animals
Thrips and Mites
You can control thrips and mites using miticides and Insect Growth Regulators.
These pests are prevalent during dry periods and decreases as rainfall increases.
African cassava mosaic virus
The African cassava mosaic virus causes the leaves of the cassava plant to wither.
When such withering occurs, it limits the growth of the root.
The best control measure is to plant resistant varieties.
This causes a reduction in internode length of cassava stem.
This pest can cause up to 80% crop loss, which is extremely detrimental to the production of subsistence farmers.
Some insects affect the plant directly. For instance, locusts feed on cassava leaves.
Ants and termites eat up cassava stems after planting, or later in the season; therefore destroying whole plants.
Others affect the plant indirectly by the transferring virus into the plant.
Use insecticides and Insect Growth Regulators to control insects.
The damage to the roots can provide an entry for the microorganisms that cause roots to rot.
To prevent this, keep the farm and its surroundings weed-free.
Use traps and poisoned grains to kill them or wire mesh fencing to prevent them from entering your field.
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Watch this video below to learn more about cassava farming and why you need to start now.