The industrial processing of cassava in Nigeria holds much potential for successful investment.
The crop is increasingly attracting attention of serious business investment. And processing businesses are slowly starting to spring-up all over the country.
You know how useful cassava is to Nigerians. Cassava forms the major part of our daily food. No family can survive a whole year without cassava related food.
Cassava can be processed into a number of products such as starch, flour, chips, ethanol and glucose syrup, and bread to name a few.
These products are all in high demand locally and also have significant export possibilities. These therefore, place a lot of raw cash in the hands of anyone who goes into cassava farming.
As a smart person, you should think about how to take advantage of the government support for agriculture and the increased budget to create wealth for yourself.
This is because cassava production surely provides opportunity for investors. If you are ready, here are what you need to start your own cassava farm in Nigeria.
1. Select Site
It is important to choose an accessible well-drained fertile soil.
While most forest lands within the South West are known to be very fertile for cassava farming, it is important to further verify in other to be sure of your investment.
2. Decide On Cassava Varieties For good cassava production
The following varieties are recommended for their high yield and processing quality: TMS 30572, NR 8082, NR8083, TMS 4(2) 1425, TMS 81/00110, TMS 92/0326.
3. Land Preparation And Planting
A total herbicide – Round up (a glyphosate) should be applied to the land where you want to plant your cassava at the rate of 4–5 l/ha 10 days before land preparation.
For cost effectiveness and optimum plant population of your cassava , mechanization and planting on ridges are recommended.
It is recommended that 5 (50 kg) bags of agricultural lime be applied /ha during land preparation.
Cassava Planting starts in April and can be extended to October. The quantity of cassava recommended for 1 ha is 60 bundles of cassava stem.
Cassava Stem cuttings 25 cm long should be planted at a spacing of 1 m x 1 m.
The following fertilizers and their rate/ha are recommended
• NPK 15:15:15–12 (50 kg) bags
• NPK 20:10:10–9 (50 kg) bags
• NPK 12:12:17–15 (50 kg) bags
Apply fertilizer at 8 weeks after planting your cassava.
Apply fertilizer in a ring, 6 cm wide and 10 cm from the plant or broadcast with care around the cassava plant, making sure the fertilizer does not touch the cassava stem or leaves.
Cassava Yield of 25 t/ha and above can be obtained with good agronomic practices and management.
Therefore, every step must be taken seriously in the process of planting your cassava (WealthResult.com, 2018).
To develop well, cassava roots need soil that has been loosened by the hoe or plough.
So till deeply, to 20 or 25 centimetres, so that the roots can get well down. After tilling, at the beginning of the rainy season, make mounds or ridges.
This breaks up the soil and it stores up water; the roots have plenty of loose earth in which to develop. If fertilizers or manure are used, work them into the soil when it is tilled.
Cassava is propagated by cuttings, by planting pieces of stem. The roots of cassava are not used for making a new plantation, and thus all the harvest can be eaten or sold.
To make cuttings, choose stems 2 to 4 centimetres thick, from the strongest plants which are not diseased and which have already produced tubers.
After the harvest, tie the selected stems in bundles. Wait at least 10 days before planting them. Keep the bundles in a cool, dry place until planting time.
But remember that the cuttings must not be made from the stems until you are ready to plant. Cut each stem into pieces 20 to 30 centimetres long.
There should be 4 to 6 growth buds on each piece. Each stem can be made into 4 or 5 cuttings.
To plant cassava, push into the soil the end of the piece of stem that was nearer to the ground. Plant the cuttings in mounds or ridges. Plant when the soil is quite wet, after the beginning of the rainy season.
Plant the cuttings either straight or slanting. Push them well into the earth, leaving only 2 or 3 buds above ground.
Cassava cuttings may be planted straight or slating.
Press the earth well down round the cuttings. Then the roots that develop will be well nourished by the soil.
Depending on the variety, harvesting of cassava for food may begin from the seventh month after planting the cuttings for early varieties, or after the tenth month for late varieties. Before this, the tubers are too small.
In addition, they still contain too much prussic acid. At harvesting time, that is, between the sixth and the twelfth month, each fully grown tuber of cassava may weigh 1 or 2 kilogrammes, depending on the variety.
In small family plantations you can harvest tubers as you need them. Without cutting the stems, begin by taking the biggest tubers from each plant, leaving the smaller ones time to fatten up.
If you are selling to a factory, you must harvest all the cassava at the same time. The production of roots and starch is highest 18 to 20 months after planting.
Once lifted, cassava cannot be kept for long. The roots begin to spoil as soon as they are out of the ground. That is why on a family plantation, you should not harvest more roots than you can eat while they are fresh, or sell immediately.
Cassava keeps longer when it is left in the ground, but the soil must not be too wet. When you lift the cassava, take good care not to break it.
Tubers damaged in lifting go bad even more quickly.
Cassava can be grown on most soils, however the best soils are sandy clay loams that are well drained without a fluctuating water table.
Proper soil management practices, adequate soil drainage and limestone applications at 2-4 t/ha incorporated into the soil 3 to 4 months before planting are necessary for the successful cultivation of cassava in the following “sugarcane” soils: Washington Series, Waterloo Series, Couva Series, Freeport Series, McBean Series, Cunupia Clay and Princes Town Clay.
These soils are mostly acidic, high in nitrogen with high aluminum levels that stunt plant growth and reduce the formation of tuberous roots. A pH of 5.5 – 6. 5 is required.
Cassava thrives best when rainfall is well distributed throughout the growing period and is not erratic. Cassava cultivars such as the M Mex, CIAT Hybrid and CMC40 cannot withstand flooding or prolonged waterlogged conditions.
The tubers deteriorate rapidly under these situations and are not marketable.
The cassava crop is highly sensitive to shade leading to low yields and must be grown under full sunlight. However, cassava can be successfully used as a shade plant in young cocoa plantations.
Maximum root production occurs within a temperature range of 25oC to 32oC.
Higher temperatures slow photosynthesis and food produced by the leaves which are used for vegetative growth and not tuber filling (Root crop bulettin, 2013).
Compiled by Damilola Omtoyinbo.
WealthResult.com ( 2018). How To Start Cassava Farming In Nigeria (Step By Step). Retrieved from https://www.wealthresult.com/
(FAO, 1977, 58 p.) Better Farming Series 16. Roots and Tubers.
Root crop bulletin (2013). Guide to Growing Cassava Successfully. Retrieved from http://www.agriculture.gov.tt/