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In a looming economy, it is imperative man finds an ancillary source of income.
Ideally, one stream of income is not enough to sustain and withstand a man’s financial obligations; a man must have more than one source of livelihood.
Agriculture is the best option in this regard; you can work in any organization and still have your farm.
You will not only be making money but also feeding people.
Food is one of the basic needs of man; without food, a man would barely survive.
By the virtue of the importance of food to humanity, farming has been a very promising and lucrative business to venture into, with relatively low input yielding large output.
Cassava is one of the important crops to humanity; its byproducts are termed staple food as man can barely do without eating at least two of them in a day.
Cassava is an economically rich crop; it is a major course of carbohydrate and of great industrial importance.
It is used in making major industrial products like ethanol, cassava flour, garri, fufu, noodles, pasta etc.,; aside from the tuber, the leaves are major delicacy to some tribes in Africa.
Cassava farming is indeed an ideal way of making a handsome ancillary income.
Starting a cassava business is not really technical; it is a short term investment that requires little of your time, provided you have made available conducive environment for its growth; nature does the nurturing for you.
Cassava is a hardy crop that grows in virtually all types of soil in the tropical region; it can withstand drought after about four month of its growth under irrigation or rainfall.
Cassava matures within 9-10 months with reasonable yield when the planting conditions are favorable; it is an annual crop that can only be planted once in a year, unlike maize that can be planted up to 3 times in a year.
There are several steps you have to go through when starting a cassava farm; these steps are what determine the growth and total yield of the plant.
These steps are essential that they can either make or mar your production; these steps are:
- Site selection: Selecting a site for cassava farming requires several precautions; though cassava can thrive on any soil but can grow better and produce optimum yield in some types of soil. Cassava needs a sandy loam soil rich in organic matter; a sandy loamy soil is a well-drained soil that does not allow waterlogging situation. The organic matter present in the soil is what naturally supplies the plant nutrient for its growth; with its abundance in the soil, the plant will surely grow laudably. Also, a soil prone to pest or insect attack should be jettisoned as it will later impair the plant’s growth at the peak of production. Though, not so common but does exist. Soil testing is crucial to adduce the above parameters; soil testing shows the lapses of the soil and also proffer productive recommendations to enhance growth and reasonable yield.
- Selection of cultivar: Cassava is commonly cultivated through vegetative means by using the stem cuttings unlike other plants that can be cultivated through seeds. Cassava cuttings are of different types and prices depending on the features of the plant produced by the stem. Over the years, several modifications have been made on cassava plant, chiefly to increase yield, withstand diverse environmental conditions and resist the menace of pest and diseases, they are called improved cultivars. Unlike the indigenous cassava stem which is prone to disease and low production potential; improved cultivars like TMS 419, TMS 30572, and TMS 92/0326 are hardier with high production potential. However, they come at higher price compare to the local ones; do not be parsimonious or frugal in a farming business, the more input you add, they more your output.
- Land preparation: One of the factors that make a farm fails is land preparation technique; the success of any farm starts from the land preparation method adopted. A conventional land preparation method has to be adopted, this involves ploughing and harrowing of the land; the two operations have good benefits on the crop and its yield. Ploughing means turning up the soil, exposing the lower region of the crop; this helps to expose pest to unfavorable condition, thus, eliminating them completely. Harrowing is the operation that smoothens the land, thus, making it suitable for planting. These two aid good root and tuber formation of the cassava plant. Proper land preparation method has to be adopted to enhance good cassava plant yield.
- Planting: Planting is the main exercise. After the procurement of the planting materials, what follows is putting them to work. The stem, which contains nodes, is buried in the soil at about 10cm deep and 45o to the soil surface, leaving about to 3-5 nodes exposed. Planting is best done early in the morning or late in the evening to evade high temperature. The spacing between cassava plants is 1m to ensure good yield. Immediately after planting, apply post emergence herbicide like glyphosate to help kill weed seeds present beneath the soil. Application of this herbicide will keep your plant free from weed competition up to about 3 months. By this time, the cassava plant would have established fully and the leaves would have formed canopy to suppress weeds. Thus, evading the cost of weeding from the total expenses.
- Fertilizer application: Fertilizer application is another way of improving a crop yield maximally. Cassava is a tuber crop; it needs more of phosphorus and potassium to enhance good yield. At the early stage of growth, NPK 15:15:15 should be applied at a rate of 50kg per hectare to aid the growth and development of the plant tissues, at the latter stage of growth, NPK 10:15:17 should be applied. This aids the increase in the growth and size of the tuber. Fertilizer should be applied using a ring method. However, in case you are using an organic fertilizer like compost manure; it should be added at two weeks before planting; that is immediately after ploughing.
- Harvesting: Harvesting of cassava comes up at about 10 months after planting; by this time, the tuber would have grown and reached maturity. Harvesting is done by uprooting the whole plant and detaching the tuber from the base. Care must be taken to avoid injury or bruise on the cassava tubers, this can reduce the quality of the crop and attract pest during storage. A well-managed cassava farm will yield up to 25 tons per hectare.
- Storage: Cassava is prone to pest attack, especially the rodent; it is advisable to store for a very short period before disposing to various market. Cassava is best stored in a cool dry place like a pit lined with dry leaves for at most 7 days.
These are the necessary steps required to start a cassava farm.
As buttressed above, it is less time consuming and easy to cultivate.
It is a salient investment with promising output.
The market for cassava is readily available as it is the raw material used to produce various staple foods.
Apart from been used to produce stable foods, it has high industrial value; it is used in making ethanol, starch and other industrial products.