Steps to start Cassava Farming

1.   Get a fertile land for the Cassava Farming;

The first step you need to take before planting your cassava is to select a fertile land.

You should look for an area that is endowed with good soil texture because the best soil for growing cassava is deep loamy soil with good drainage, though cassava can still grow in other marginal soil. But it’s highly advisable to consider the rich soil so as to get great yield but in the event of low fertility, soil test is recommended to determine the deficiency and also work on the fertility treatment to consider.

Loamy soils are the best because they are rich in nutrients, low in gravel, are easy to work or till and have good soil-water drainage.

Select an area with flat or gently sloping land. Do not select Steep slopes, Valleys and depression areas because they are easily eroded, get waterlogged quickly and do not allow cassava roots to develop well.

It is also advisable to know about the history of the land you intend to cultivate, that is to know the previous crop produced on the land or to know if the land is a virgin forested land.

Also when looking for a land, you might be looking for an area with thick vegetation cover, if you intend to do land clearing operations.

If you did not find a fertile land for your cassava plantation. You can follow these fertility treatment schedules to improve the nutrients in the soil;

  • Add organic or manure or Inorganic fertilizers such as NPK to your farm.
  • Practices mulching; (Mulch cassava seedbeds) this involves covering the soil surface with plant materials, but not sustainable for large-scale farming.
  • Plant cassava in association with other crops such as maize, rice, vegetables and Legumes, like cowpea and groundnuts. They are particularly good intercrop because these plants make and release nutrients into the soil.

2. Select the Best Cassava Variety to Plant for Your Cassava Farming in Nigeria:

In the year 1954 modern research on cassava started in Nigeria at the FDAR (Focus Data Action and Response), Ibadan, south west Nigeria.

However, even before then, there were many cassava varieties in Nigeria. These cassava varieties varied in their tuber yields and general tolerance to pests and diseases.

In around 1967 the modern researches have led the country to have other improved varieties which were named; 60506, 60444, 60447 etc.

Few years later (1972) there was a bacterial outbreak which was known as Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB). This attached the cassava farms in Nigeria and only 60306 variety and few others were able to survive the disease.

The research work at The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) later identified improved varieties which were released after 1976.

These new cassava clones (varieties) were named; TMS 30110, TMS 30572, TMS 300017, TMS 30555, TMS 30001, TMS 4(2)1425, TMS 30337, TME 419, etc

Nigerian cassava farmers preferred these improved varieties because of their high yields, earlier maturity and suppression of weeds, though these new cassava varieties are different in their resistance to cassava diseases and pests such as; Cassava Mealybug (CMB), Cassava Mosaic Virus (CMV), Cassava Green Spider Mite (CGM), Cassava Anthracnose Disease (CAD) etc.

To be profitable in your Cassava farming endeavor and processing of cassava  in Nigeria; you should make a careful selection of your cassava variety to avoid loss.

Qualities of the best cassava varieties are those that are mostly preferred by Buyers/Processors, they grow fast, gives good yields, store well in the soil and are tolerant and resistant to major pests, and diseases. Also they have longer shelf life before processing.

What you should look at for when selecting your cassava varieties for your cassava farm are;

  • Cassava varieties with high Starch content/dry matter: Cassava with high starch/dry matter is good for any cassava venture, because the dry matter is mainly starch and a little bit of fiber. The percentage of dry matter in the roots determines the quantity and quality of the products obtained after the roots are processed. You should seek for a cassava varieties that bulks (that is the swelling of the storage roots as they are filled with stored food early): the cassava varieties that bulk early are better and are able to make up for losses in storage root yield which might be an impact of weed competition, leaf-feeding pests, and disease. TME 419 is the best variety that meets these requirements very well.

 

  • Cassava varieties that are tolerant to weeds, pests, and diseases: when looking for perfect cassava varieties, you should select varieties that are tolerant and resistant to diseases, pests, and weeds. This is because adaptable varieties do branch early, low, and often. Such varieties are able to expand a lot of branches and leaves rapidly to shade the ground and prevent weeds from growing vigorously and become a problem.

 

  • Choose cassavas varieties that are edible. Starting your cassava farming in Nigeria, you should look out for the cassava varieties which are edible; these are the varieties which their cassava storage roots can be cooked without processing. The non-edible ones are referred to as bitter cassava while the edible ones are referred to as sweet cassava.

 

  • And lastly seek cassava varieties that have a ground storage capacity without getting spoilt, damaged or decayed till the harvesting time.
    Remember that when you plant the best varieties of cassava, your production will definitely be high and also there will be maximum income.

For easier choice, below are some of the best performing cassava varieties in Nigeria and their codes (names).

3. Select Healthy Cassava Stem Cuttings for Your Cassava Farming:

When you plant healthy stem cuttings; you can, to a great extent reduce and control the spread and damage caused by cassava’s pests and diseases. You should be looking for a healthy cassava stem cutting.

Note; The cassava Stem cuttings that are taken from the top green portions of stems or extreme top and bottom of stored stems are not fitting and unsuitable. They will dehydrate quickly, produce unhealthy sprouts, and are easily damaged by pests and diseases.

To prepare your cassava stem cutting for planting; cut each stem cutting to a length of at least 20–25 cm. Using stem cuttings with about 2–8 nodes
For cassava stems which are slightly infected with stem-borne pests; treat it by dipping them in heated water or into dilute pesticide solution for 5– 10 minutes.

Recommended Practices for Planting Your Cassava for High Production;

The land used in the cultivation of your cassava should be tilled to loosen up the soil, facilitate soil drainage, and promote healthier storage root development and to make it easy for roots to develop.

When cutting up cassava stems you should handle cuttings carefully during transportation to prevent bruises and damage to the nodes. Your cassava stem which you will use for planting should be a cutting of at least 20–25 cm long and has about 5–8 nodes.

It is important to plant your cassava properly. And to get the best sprouting and growth from cassava stem cuttings, it is recommended that Cassava stems cuttings may be planted vertically, at an angle, or horizontally.

The different between planting your Cassava stem cuttings vertically and horizontally is that when planted vertically; the storage roots develops deeper in the soil, more closely together, and are more difficult to harvest by pulling. (Note; vertical planting is best in sandy soils.)

Whereas when planted horizontally; the storage roots develop more closely to the surface and are likely to be exposed and attacked by neither birds nor rodents.

Know when to weed your cassava farm when your cassava has started germinating to prevent the weed from stopping your plant from growing properly.

4. You May Need to Use Fertilizer on Your Cassava Farm

Depending on the situation of the soil, you may need fertilizer to boost the production of your cassava farming in Nigeria

If that is the case the following fertilizer and their rate/ha are recommended;

  • NPK 20:10:10-9 (50 kg) bags
  • NPK 15:15:15-12 (50 kg) bags
  • NPK 12:12:17-15 (50 kg) bags

Fertilizer should be applied at about 8 weeks of planting your cassava and it should be a ring, 6 cm wide and 10 cm from the plant or spread with care around the cassava plants. Just make sure the fertilizer doesn’t stay around the cassava stems.

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