Cassava is majorly consumed in every home in Nigeria and widely consumed globally in various forms.Check out the guides on how to start vassava farming in Nigeria.
Cassava Farming in Nigeria
Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a staple crop that is important for food security in the tropics. However, cassava farming can have severe environmental impacts, such as habitat destruction and soil degradation, if it is not carefully managed. Therefore, a wide range of agricultural and environmental outcomes should be considered when cassava farming practices are recommended
Cassava farming is becoming more lucrative than it used to be. This is because it is being processed into many different forms both for local consumption and for export.
In Nigeria, cassava plantation has been found to succeed in the Southern States such as Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Ondo, Ogun, Delta, Abia, Anambra etc. But not in the Northern parts because the weather may not encourage their optimum growth. Cassava farming can still do well even if it doesn’t rain again after the first 5 months, that is why you can hardly hear of irrigation in cassava farming except droughts sets in after planting.
Cassava tubers are used both for industrial and commercial purposes. It is used in making ethanol, starch and some industrial products. Cassava flour was approved by the Federal Government as the only flour to be used in the production of bread and other snacks, generally.
Cassava can be planted twice a year, the first one is during the early rains from April while the second will be in August.
How Profitable is Cassava Farming?
It is profitable as you are sure to make 50% return on investment if good cultural farming practices are carried out. Cassava farming is not capital-intensive, It is not tasking the only time you have so much to do is during land preparation and planting; after that you go to your normal business and wait for them to be well matured for harvest but be mindful in weeding the farm as at when due. There is a ready market for cassava both locally and internationally. It can only take about a year or less before harvest.
Land Preparation for Cassava Farming
Clear the land from stump, you can mold ridges or allow the soil as it is- leveled. The raising of ridges can be easily carried out manually if the farm is for small-scale. The soil should be sandy-loam, that is, soil that can absorb and drain water as cassava plant does not do well in a waterlog area.
When clearing the land if you are using tractor pour organic manure of cow, goat, pig, chicken etc on the land. So that it can be mixed with the soil for proper development of the plant.
If you are from south-south example Akwa Ibom, there is no need for soil tillage since the soil is already soft because of the weather condition there.
Planting of Cassava
- After clearing your farm the next thing to do is planting, this should be done very early in the morning or late evening. In cassava farming, cassava stem is mostly used in the propagation of the plant although some people use the seed to propagate too. The con of planting with the seed is that it will not germinate fast.
- The stem should be reduced to 3-4cm or should have about 6 nodes. Plant by slanting it to about 40-45` if you are planting on ridges do not stand it. It will still germinate if you stand it but the proper way for it is by slanting. Put 1 stem each into the soil 3 of the nodes should be inside the soil while 3 should be exposed.
- Allow a distance of 1m by 1m for maximum yield. Spacing is very important for cassava plant so that they can feed well as overcrowding will result in nutrient competition and may result in some of them doing well while others will be stunted.
- It can also be planted by digging the soil to about 10cm, lay the cut stem into it, 2 or 3 cut stems per hole and cover it up with the dug out soil. You have to cover them well if not, sun might kill the stem.
In cassava farming you need plenty of manure especially at the early stage of cultivation. NPK 15:15:15 should be used because it contains nitrogen which is essential at their early stage of growth for the building of their tissue and in their development. If you see a healthy cassava plant whose leaves spreads out and are very succulent, it will produce a healthy harvest.
After that first application you should stop applying nitrogen fertilizer because continuous application will only make the leaves and other vegetative parts of the plant to grow healthy which can slow down the maturing of the root (tubers). Instead, apply fertilizer that contains potassium and phosphorus for a good yield (for large tubers).
Also for a place like Cross River State and any other south-south states the soil is already rich especially if it is a virgin land and will not require fertilizer application but if it is for replanting, humus (compost manure) is okay for use.
Before planting cassava after clearing the land, glyphosate should be sprayed on the soil in other to kill any remaining weeds and their seeds in the soil in other to prevent the weed from germinating for 3 months and by this time the cassava plant has already form canopy.
Pest and Disease Control in Cassava Farming
Although diseases in cassava farming are not as threatening like other plants but they still show up as in other plants. The most common disease in cassava farm is cassava mosaic; it causes the folding of the leaves. Another one is wilting it causes the decaying of roots (tubers). Uproot affected plants out immediately you notice their activities in other to stop the spread of the disease.
You can apply insecticides, fungicides, bacteriacides etc. I will advice that you plant the new improved hybrid cassava steps which are resistant to diseases.
Harvesting of cassava farming can be done between 9-10 months after planting although there are some hybrid stems that can be harvested between 6-7 months. This is done by uprooting the cassava plant to remove the tubers. You can use your hand to cut them off or use a knife but care must be taken not to cut the body of the tubers. But for a large-scale you will use harvester machine for the harvesting, this method is fast but can injure the tubers and it is also expensive.
Altogether it is advisable to leave your cassava to be fully matured before harvesting especially if you are selling to companies that produces starch. Your crop might be rejected if it is not matured enough besides you might run into a loss if you harvest earlier than when it should be done. Sometimes the ground breaking of cassava will tell you that harvest time has come.
A hectare of cassava should produce between 25 – 30 tonnes (especially on a virgin land) depending on the yield. A trailer load of cassava contains 30 tonnes.
Uses of cassava
Cassava tubers can be used for different purposes:
- In the production of glucose which is mostly used by pharmaceutical industries in the production of drugs.
- It can be used in the production of starch by companies for strengthening clothes.
- The leaves are sometimes used in cooking
- Cassava bark can be served to animals, example goat for food
- It can be used for tapioca, chips, flour, flakes, fufu
The crop might stay for some days before being disposed of, except for the ones that the buyers come and harvest by themselves or wait for them while harvesting is going on.Cassava can be stored locally in a ban. You can also dig a big pit for them cover it up with dry leaves. But you have to separate the wounded ones and process them immediately.
You can start cassava farming with a plot of land to experiment the farming process before launching out in a large-scale. The challenges are not much; it could be not getting a ready buyer at the point of harvest that is why you have to know your target market before embarking.
Also, you can process it to other products instead of allowing them to die. Another challenge will be handling of transportation, that is why the location should be accessible and in close proximity. You have to protect your farm against rodents, squirrels, goat, cow etc. Plant japhita trees around your farm to wade off cattle and set up a trap for squirrels and rabbits.