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. Cassava is majorly consumed in every home in Nigeria and widely consumed globally in varied forms.
Cassava farming is mostly carried out in the tropical region of the West African countries like Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, and Benin Republic etc. 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.
In case you don’t have land to practice cassava farming you can lease one for cultivation. A hectare of land can be gotten for #10,000 and you can renew it after one year. Cassava can be planted twice a year, the first one is during the early rains from April while the second will be in August.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO INTO CASSAVA FARMING
- It is profitable you are sure to make 50% return on investment if good cultural farming practices are carried out.
- Cassava farming is not capital-intensive you can spend about #350,000 for a hectare
- 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 debris and 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.
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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.
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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 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.
TYPES OF CASSAVA STEM
- TME 419
- TMS 30572 These two are good for the production of starch.
TMS 4(2)1425TMS 81/00110TMS 92/0326TMS 30001TMS 50395NR 8082, NR 8083All these are good for the production of garri because the contain low starch. to purchase the stem you can contact IITA, Ibadan.They have any type of cassava stem you maybe looking for or you buy from those who already purchased from them for planting and have gotten their own stem from it.
The cost of producing cassava varies from location to location; you have to find out that which is applicable in your own location.
Here are some guidelines for a hectare of farm land:
Ploughing, this is done to clear the land – #11,500
Harrowing for loosening of the soil – #11,500
An hectare of farm requires 60 bundles and a bundle is sold for #350 depending on the seller
The cassava stem will be – #21,000
Application of chemical both purchase and labour – #16,000
There are two chemicals to apply one cost #1,500,
The second chemical cost #2,500
Spraying of insecticides requires 4 liters each for the 2 types of chemical.
The first weeding (chemical) for a hectare is – #20,000
Second weeding #7,000
The use of chemical is suitable if it is a closed canopy variety that was used for the planting, the labour for any of the weeding is #5,000 each. Same will go for the third weeding that is if it is necessary. Why the first weeding is costly is because the weeds are voluminous.
This expenses can be reduced, by finding ways to cut down the cost. The cost of labour in a hectare can be done mechanically because of the largeness of the farm. But for an acre you can handle the it by yourself. 24 bundle of cassava is needed for an acre.
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 very succulent sure it will produce a healthy harvest.
After that first application you 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.
HOW TO APPLY INORGANIC FERTILIZER
If the cassava leaves has already form canopy you can broadcast the fertilizer but care must be taken in order for it not to touch the plant. Otherwise dig a ring hole about 4cm round the cassava seedling put the fertilizer and cover.
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.
But if you did not do this then you should weed within 4 to 6 weeks after planting, the next one can be after 3-4 months and at 7 months if necessary.
PEST AND DISEASE CONTROL IN CASSAVA FARMING
Although diseases in cassava farming are not as threatening like other plants but the 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.
Depending on the specie you are planting you have to source for buyers accordingly. For cassava that contain high level of starch, companies that produce starch should be located and sold to. Most of those companies can be found in Ogun State, there is Green Tech in Agbara Estate. Search online for companies that buy cassava tubers.
You can as well source for women who processes cassava to garri or fufu and sell to them it is not difficult to find them. Go to the market and locate those if non lives around you.
In my state Akwa Ibom, there are people who specializes in the producrion of fufu. They prepare it in such a way that the sellers only have to pour it into the pot and cook for sale. A bag goes for #1,000 each.
Processed garri can be sold to market women in wholesale price. Other products that it can be processed into are; flakes, chips, alcohol etc. It can be exported to other countries thereby raising our economy.
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.
PROFITABILITY IN CASSAVA FARMING
Cassava farming is very profitable. Assuming you planted a hectare and spent about the amount that was used in the analysis then your profit will be: expenses minus amount sold.
Amount sold 25,000 for a ton x 20,000 = #500,000
Total #500,000 – 140,000 = 360,000
This is not bad for a farm you did not stress too much for, but to make more profits you can process the cassava to other products and sell.
INTER-CROPPING OF OTHER CROPS IN CASSAVA FARMING
There are some few crops that can be inter-cropped with cassava but maize is very advisable as it will be harvested within a short time (3 months) leaving cassava plant to take over the whole space, manure and sunlight.
Some people have argued that inter-cropping maize with cassava will reduce the yield of fertilizer well! This is not true because we have planted these two together and the both did well on their own. Nevertheless, the spacing for the two crops should be put into considerations.
For a mechanized farm this may not be advisable because it will obstruct the effective use of machines. If you still want to plant the two together you have to plant them on ridges.
PROCESSING OF CASSAVA TO GARRI
This is done by peeling off the bark (skin) of the tubers with knife or machine, wash them with water, grind them with a grinding machine, you can carry it to the grinders if you don’t have the machine. The grinders will grind and put them in a sack bag and press out water from it inside a pressing machine so that the ground cassava will be completely free of water.
It can then be fried the next day this is because the ground cassava have to be left to ferment in other to reduce the strength of the starch inside it which is what is mostly desired from a processed garri.
1 ton of garri = 18bags and a bag is sold for 10,000 to be fair, if you do the calculation you will see the kind of gain that you can make when you process into garri.
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 of soup especially by the Edo people.
- Cassava bark can be served to animals, example goat for food
- It can be used for tapioca, chips, flour, flakes, fufu etc.
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.
I will not advise anybody to collect loan for what he/she is just starting, you can go for loan if you want to expand. When you are ready for loan just approach any commercial bank, Agricultural Development Banks, CBN are now giving grants to farmers’ especially the young ones in other to encourage them into Agriculture. But for a start you can approach your family members and friends to support you. Please start with what you have and build it up.
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.
WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT TME 419 VARIETY
If you are hoping to make plenty of money from cassava then plant TME 419. This is what starch producing companies are using because it contains high level of starch.
Most cassava farmers plant cassava that are used for food only. This is why companies have shortages of demand for raw material for production. And the reason you should take advantage of the opportunities.
Note: never use for 419 for food like garri, fufu etc. It is not ideal, make sure you the kind of cassava farming you are going for from the onset. Add value to your cassava business it is the sure way just like in rice production. Click here if you want to learn rice farming.
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