I know you are looking for a way to make money out of cassava farming that’s why you are reading this post right now.
I promise you that by the end of this article, you would have gathered enough knowledge about cassava farming business that will make you start farming cassava right away.
As a bonus to this cassava farming guide , I have also added the different pests and diseases that affect cassava and lower your cassava yield.
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
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.
Uses of Cassava
As stated earlier, cassava has many uses and its uses cuts 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.
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 process of cultivating cassava involves simple farm operations such as; land preparation, planting, weeding, fertilization, and harvesting.
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. The crop can be grown on most soils; however, the best soils are sandy clay loams that are well drained without a fluctuating water table.
Cassava is a tropical crop that finds the most favorable growing conditions in humid-warm climates at temperatures of between 25 – 29°C and precipitations of between 1000 – 1500 mm which ideally 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 and 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 nutrient as seen in this project research They claim that as you are burning the bush, some essential nutrients will find their way out of the soil in 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, dried animal manure or compost can be incorporated to increase soil fertility.
Ridges or mounds which are 0.75m-1m apart are constructed depending 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 rainforest 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.
Intercropping cassava with other crops reduces the danger of loss caused by unfavorable weather and pests by spreading the risk across several plants with different vulnerabilities.
Ensure you are planting cassava stem cuttings taken 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.
Methods of Planting Cassava
There are three methods of planting cassava
1. Horizontal planting
Plant cuttings are buried 5-10cm 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.
2. Vertical planting
this is done during rainy days so that cuttings will not rot if constantly wet. In contrast, under low rainfall conditions, vertical planting may result in dehydration of the cuttings.
3. Inclined planting
Cuttings are inclined at 45o in semi-rainy areas, leaving 2-3 nodes above ground level. The inclination of the stem and roots provide a 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;
- A thorough land preparation is a 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, favors 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 proverbial 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 5: Harvesting the Cassava Tubers
Cassava maturity differs from one variety to another. You can harvest your cassava 8 – 18 months after planting.
However, the exact time for harvesting cassava depends on the variety of the cassava, the environment where it is planted, and the agricultural practices adopted.
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.
How to make money from cassava farming business
Sell the cassava stem out to make profit and use the excess as firewood for cooking when they are dried.
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.
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 roots as soon as they are harvested. Once the roots are harvested, they begin to deteriorate within about 48 hours, and then begin to rot and decay.
Cassava Diseases and Pests
Pests and diseases are 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:
1. Thrips and Mites:
Can be controlled using a recommended miticide and Insect Growth Regulators.
These pests are prevalent during dry periods and decreases as rainfall increases.
2. 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.
3. Cassava mealybug:
This causes a reduction in inter-node 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 as soon as they are planted, or later in the season; therefore destroying whole plants.
Others affect the plant indirectly by the transferring virus into the plant. Use recommended insecticides and Insect Growth Regulators to control insects.
5. Herbivorous Animals:
Grass-cutters, pigs, goats, and sheep frequently expose and eat up roots in the soil. 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.