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