cassava is a profitable business

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Cassava is one of the most popular and widely consumed food crops

in Nigeria.

It is scientifically called Manihot Esculanta, a tropical and perennial

plant with a consumable root which serves as a major source of

carbohydrate in human diet, containing high protein (20–27% crude

protein) with condensed tannin’s (1.5–4% CP) used as a good

roughage source for dairy.

Cassava, which originated from tropical America and introduced to

Africa by the Portuguese in the year 1958 through the Congo basin,

has since gained acceptance in Africa and this plays an important

role in agriculture among developing countries, especially in sub-

Saharan Africa, because it does well on poor soils with low rainfall.

According to the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association, the increase

in Nigeria’s and Africa’s population over the years has made the

demand for cassava and its product to rise and this development has

led to higher revenue for farmers all over the word.

However, experts have observed that not all farmers or individuals

who venture into cassava farming do it due to lack of employ-ability

in the country or inadequate skills to be successful in other

business.

But rather the wide harvesting window of cassava plantation allows it

to act as a famine reserve and is invaluable in managing labour

schedules. It also offers flexibility to poor farmers because it serves

as either subsistence or a cash crop.

Cassava leaf

This food crop has been cultivated for centuries and processed into

a number of products such as starch, flour, chips, ethanol, glucose

syrup, and bread amongst others.These products are in high demand

locally, and internationally.

Research shows that Africa depends much on root and tuber crops

more than all continents in feeding its population. and this crop

processed into several formulation such as Garri (for drinking) or

making eba (a popular food in Nigeria), Fufu, Tapioka. The cassava

plant gives the third highest yield of carbohydrates per cultivated

area among crop plants, after sugarcane and sugar beets.

Cassava starch is used in making products such as biscuits, bread

and derivatives such as sagos and sauce. Cassava starch has also

been industrially modified to provide products with physical and

chemical properties for specific applications, including the

preparation of jelly, thickening agents, gravies, custard powders,

baby food, glucose and confectioneries (Ene, 1992)

However, since the advent of cassava usage in production and

processing of animal feed, Asia and Latin America have witnessed

rapid changes in the value chain system. Other contributing factors

include new government policies promoting the use of cassava

based products, improvements in cassava processing technology

and the emerging importance of cassava as an effective industrial

raw material for starch, animal feed and ethanol industries.

Cassava farming is mainly done to produce food items, solvents,

alcohol, glucose, animal feed, energy, fertilisers, and some extra by-

products. Nigeria tops the cassava production list, all over the world

and Thailand tops the list of cassava production in the Asian

continent.

Cassava Root

Commercial cassava farming can create a huge profit if a suitable

variety of cassava is cultivated with good farm management skills.

Mainly, cassava plant, leaves and tubers are the important part,

which is used most by the people for cooking or in other forms.

Roots of this commercial crops are mainly consumed because it has

an excellent source of starch along with vitamin ‘C’, calcium,

phosphorus, etc.

A good combination of all these nutrients have lots of health

benefits. Cassava roots are about 1 mm thick in size and have brown

colour outside. However, the commercial cassava plants have larger

roots having a bigger diameter and larger length.

Cassava Cultivation

Ploughed Cassava Farmland

Cassava has ability to grow on poor soils majorly because it has an

extensive root system and uses plant nutrients which are not easily

accessible to other crops. In traditional farming, without fertilisers,

farmers can obtain yields of 5-6 t/ha on soils that would not support

other crops.

However, for good growth and yields, cassava requires light textured

and well-drained soils containing sufficient moisture and a balanced

amount of plant nutrients. Under such conditions, yields of 40-60

tons/hectar are possible.

Cassava Stem for Plantation

For healthy cultivation, it is advisable to make use of fresh stem

cuttings from mature plants which are simply the best for planting.

Cassava stem cuttings are vulnerable to adverse climatic conditions,

pests, and diseases. If exposed to sunlight, cuttings dry and lose

viability. Excessive moisture causes sprouting or rotting, and this

slows down the initial development and it (sprouts) makes cassava

susceptible to weed competition in the first 3-4 months.

Regular weeding is required till the crops are able to form canopy

and reduce weed infestation.

Cassava Plantation yielding gradually

Cassava farming depends on soil type and drainage, the field may be

prepared as mounds, ridges, flat-tilled, or zero-tilled. Where

mechanisation is available, the land is ploughed and harrow to a

depth of 25cm. However, planting on flat soil, requires cuttings

directly into the land.

Cassava Harvesting

Cassava Plantation

Cassava harvesting should be done as soon as tuberous roots have

accumulated sufficient amount of starch, but not too late, when

tuberous roots become woody or fibrous. Depending on the varieties,

it could be harvested at 7 or 12 months after planting.

Most cassava varieties attain optimum weight about 18 months after

planting when starch accumulation is at optimum. The best time for

harvesting cassava varies according to time of planting, climatic

conditions, soil factors down to market conditions.

Cassava Harvest

Manual harvesting involves cutting the stems a few centimetres

above the ground, and then loosening the soil around the tuberous

roots, and pulling the stub of the stem up to lift out the root.

Mechanical harvesters use their tools to uproot tuberous roots,

which are then piled by hand. Harvesting is easier when the soil is

moist or when planted on ridges rather than on flat ground.

Cassava processing

Cassava Processing

During cassava processing you can decide what you want to make of

the cassava root, either to make Garri, Fufu, or even Tapioca,

depending on the market needs.

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