Cassava farming in Nigeria has increased tremendously over the years with the increasing use of cassava products not only as food items (garri, fufu, amala, bread, abacha) but also we can derive the following from cassava: alcohol, glucose, animal feed, solvent, fertilizer, etc.
It can be cultivated in any part of the county so far as there is adequate rain fall and sun shine. Nigeria is so favoured by nature and consequently, being in the vantage position, happens to be in the forefront in cassava farming in Africa.
24 out of the 36 states in Nigeria produce cassava both for household consumption and commercially. Cassava farming is dominated by states in the south east such as Anambra, Delta,Edo, Abia, Enugu Imo, etc. Cassava farming is one of the easiest thing a farmer can do since it only involve the burying of the stems in the soil, whether you make ridges or not and in less than 6 months, you are already harvesting.
Cassava as a major food item in Nigeria, has some health benefits too. That could be the reasons why its production has increased astronomically in the past 50 years.
Steps to start cassava farming business
Here are the steps anyone can follow to start a cassava farming business.
1. Select your site
Selecting a site is very important because different soil for different type of cassava. If it is at all possible, do a feasibility study, particularly for commercial cassava farming , ostensibly to identify the following:
- Whether the soil is right for the type of cassava you want to plant
- Whether there is adequate rainfall and sunshine in the area.
- The topography of the landscape
- Check the land for good soil texture
- Check for vegetation around the land.
- Check whether the soil is prone to pest invasion.
2. Prepare to make the soil more suitable for cassava farming
You can achieve this in the following ways:
- The use of fertilizer
- The use manure
- The preparation of ridges
- The use of irrigation if there is not adequate rain fall
- Be ready to plant two crops on the ridges, to kill two birds with one stone.
3. Cassava stems to use for planting
Not all soil is suitable for all variety of cassava stems. You must consider the following factors before you make your selection on the suitable cassava stems to use.
- Stems that produce good food quality
- Stems that produce cassava within the shortest time possible
- Stem that can produce cassava that can last for a long time.
- Stem that yield cassava that are resistance to pests
- Stems that is appropriate for the soil
- Stems that grows fast and are healthy
By and large, look for the following cassava stems for their rapid growth and richly yield. TMS 30572, TMS (2) 1425,TMS 92/0326 and a lot of variety of others.
4. Prepare for cultivation
You must apply herbicide(an agent used to destroy or stop plant growth) about ten days before land preparation. Planting on ridges is always recommended, so if it is cheaper to employ mechanised planting method or the use of manual labour, the cost must be quantified. During land preparation, it is recommended to apply appropriate quantity of quicklime.
5. Decide when to plant the cassava stem cuttings during the planting season
Usually the planting season is around April and extends to September/October. Plant cassava stems on ridges of average of 40cm in width and 40-60 cm in height of one row, such aids plant care. Moreover, I recommend that you apply fertlizer 8-10 weeks after planting the cassava stems.
You must weed the grass that grow with the cassava stem as when it is appropriate to do so as it helps the cassava stems grow in a healthy manner.
The sign that the cassava is ripe for harvesting is when the leaves turn yellow in colour and falling off from the stem. The first stage in the harvesting exercise is first of all to cut off the stems of the plant and prepare them either for sale or for planting in the next season. One of the advantages of cassava farming is that the stems are used for the planting and not the roots, unlike yam, beans, maize, groundnut, etc. You must now dig out the roots which may be available for sale or for further processing.
7. Processing cassava roots
You can make the following from cassava roots. It depends on the area you want to make money from, the following are the routes you can choose from:
- Garri processing This is very profitable business in Nigeria. Majority of families in the east, west, middle belt and some part in the north consume garri everyday. This involves frying the fermented and separated cassava from the chaff, after the water in it has dried up.
- Fufu production Here you put the cassava roots in a container full of water and allow a period of four days within which the root has fermented. The fermented cassava roots are now separated from the chaff, using a sieve. The cassava is now read for cooking.
You can also process statch, abacha amala and cassava flour
You should not overlook the diseases that can attack your cassava crops at any time before harvesting. They include; root rot disease, ( this disease causes the cassava roots to decay), as well as anthrac nose and mosaic diseases.
The need for budget can not be over emphasized. It gives you the picture of the overall cost to be incurred before the cassava planting, during and the harvesting of the cassava yields as well as the potential revenue you are going to earn.
Set up cost: ₦
Renting of 1 acre of land 50,000
Preparation of land 30,000
Cassava stems for bundles of 100 30,000
Planting of cassava 8,000
Fertilizer 10 bags @ 2,500 25,000
Application of fertilizer 5,000
Weeding of grass 15,000
Insecticide application 4,000
This budged is only about cost of preparation, planting, nurturing and harvesting of cassava. It is only a guide since the cost of farming instruments, including labour keep changing. Here I did not include the cost of land, rather I included the renting of the land. Other costs I have skipped for lack of accurate information include: boom sprayers, tractors and harvesters.
Cassava planting and harvesting takes sometime to materialise, so the watch word is “patience”. It needs a lot of coordination , prudent management of resources and doing things at the right time. However, reasonable amount of profit is often achieved. Commercial cassava farming is worth it.