Nigeria is known to be the largest producer of cassava globally, but the question is, are we really producing enough? The answer remains NO! Cassava products such as Garri are quite expensive, especially in times like this, and it goes to show how much more cassava production we need to balance with the growing population.
Cassava is a major food item in Nigeria and has numerous uses and health benefits. In Nigeria, cassava is processed to make Garri and Fufu (Akpu), which are rich foods. Other food produced from cassava includes flour, chips, etc.
Cassava is also used industrially to produce starch, ethanol, and glucose syrup, to name a few.
Is Cassava Farming a Lucrative and Profitable Business?
In economics, where demand is higher than supply, then the price must surely increase. This is the case with cassava in Nigeria. The demand for cassava products is higher than the supply, so the price of cassava products will likely rise.
This is a result of insufficient production capacity. Cassava is a very profitable business because it can be processed into different products which have export potentials.
Why Should I Start a Cassava Farming Business?
- Cassava farming is not capital intensive as it requires a small amount to start.
- Cassava takes a period of 6 to 10 months to reach harvest. Improved breeds can be planted twice a year, thereby giving room to make more profit.
- Cultivating cassava is not cumbersome because the main work is mainly done during land preparation and harvest.
- Cassava is not selective and can survive almost anywhere.
Step by Step Guide On How to Start a Cassava Farming Business
Below is the step-by-step guide on starting a cassava farm.
- Site clearing and Land Preparation.
- Land Acquisition in a good Location.
- Purchase of cassava stem.
- Planting of cassava.
- Fertilizer and Manure Application.
- Harvesting and Sales.
1. Land Acquisition in a Good Location
This is the first step to take when starting a cassava farm. Acquire a large portion of land in a suitable location where the soil is fertile. Cassava can be grown on most soil types. However, the best soil for growing cassava is light sandy or loamy soil.
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Cassava prefers well-drained soil and modest rainfall, but it can survive in areas where the soils are wet. Cassava roots do not tolerate freezing temperatures, and the best growth is in full sun. After the land acquisition, security measures should be taken by fencing around the land to avoid theft.
2. Site Clearing and Land Preparation
Site clearing involves clearing bushes and trees and leveling the ground for planting. This is done with the use of hoe or tractors. Bush clearing exposes the soil to sunlight and helps to remove weeds that might compete with the plants. After clearing the bushes, the grasses can decay on the farm and serve as compost.
Land preparation also involves mixing the soil with organic matter, which helps increase the soil’s nutrient composition. Ridges and mounts for planting can be made. Your ridges or mounds should be at least 0.75m-1m apart. This is to ensure there is the proper spacing of plants to avoid overcrowding.
3. Purchase of Cassava Stem
Healthy and disease-free stems should be purchased to encourage a higher yield of cassava. Stem cuttings are called ‘stakes.’ Stem cuttings should be cut to 25cm each. There are different varieties of cassava stem which have different yields.
Choose the variety you intend to plant. Here are varieties of cassava planted by farmers e.g TMS 30110, TMS 300017, TMS 30555, TMS 30001, TME 419 etc. Your selection will determine the yield. Cassava stem can be gotten from other farmers or bought in the market. Subsequently, you can begin to get more stems as your farm yield improves.
4. Planting of Cassava
Certain factors such as planting time, season, method of preparation, etc., should be considered when planting cassava. Cassava farming requires water, and you should start planting early immediately after rain season to ensure rapid growth and maximum yield. The quantity recommended for 1 ha is 60 bundles of cassava stem.
Cuttings can be planted by hand or by planting machines. Hand planting is done in three ways: vertical, flat below the soil surface, or tilted. Under low rainfall conditions, vertical planting may result in the desiccation of the cuttings, while in areas of higher rainfall, flat-planted cuttings may rot. In general, flat planting 5-10 cm below the soil surface is recommended in dry climates and when mechanical planting is used.
Weeding should be done to prevent the cassava seedlings from being attacked by unwanted plants. Weeding should be done carefully with hoe to avoid damaging the roots of the cassava. It is recommended that weeding be done two to three weeks after planting cassava in the field. This encourages the cassava to sprout and grow freely without disturbances.
6. Fertilizer and Manure Application
It would be best if you did this at the early stage of planting because cassava requires much manure to yield maximum results. You should apply fertilizers rich in Nitrogen because cassava requires nitrogen as an essential nutrient for its growth. Potassium and Phosphorus are also essential for good yield. Where the soil is rich in organic matter, fertilizer addition might not be very necessary.
7. Harvesting and Sales
Early-maturing cassava varieties are ready for harvesting at seven months, while late-maturing varieties are ready 12 months after planting. The proper stage for harvesting is when the leaves turn yellow, fall, and the roots mature. It is advisable to harvest cassava once it is mature.
Most cassava is harvested by hand, lifting the lower part of the stem and pulling the roots out of the ground, then removing them from the base of the plant by hand. The upper parts of the stems with the leaves are removed before harvest.
You can make sales by taking the cassava to the local market. You can also process cassava into consumables like Garri and fufu, which can be sold much higher than the raw commodity.
How to Store Cassava
Once the roots are harvested, they begin to deteriorate within about 48 hours, initially owing to enzymatic changes in the roots and then rot and decay. The roots may be kept refrigerated for up to a week or stored in the ground for longer periods if they are not detached from the plant.
Cassava is a very lucrative business and can be started with a small amount of money. Of course, it requires intensive labor at the early stage of planting and during harvest, but you can’t compare this to the huge amount of money you will make from the business.
If you are an agricultural enthusiast, you can try out cassava farming to explore its huge potentials. Before starting the business, it is important to get for yourself a ready market. This is because cassava perishes quickly and does not stay for long before getting rotten.
You can also process it into other final products with a longer shelf life and make money from this. Large commercial farms can produce cassava for industrial use in starch and alcohol production. Excess quantities can also be exported to other neighboring communities or countries.