cassava cultivation process (manihot spp)

WHAT IS CASSAVA(Manihot spp). Cassava just like yam, is a root and tuber crop.

It has underground roots which can be consumed by man and livestock animals after processing.

It has other advantages over yam, in that it can grow in relatively poor soil and in low rainfall areas. The root is also rich in carbohydrates.

The tubers (root tubers, tuberous roots, storage roots) are true roots modified to function only as storage organs that cannot absorb

water or plant nutrients from the soil and cannot be used for vegetative propagation or as planting material.

The older root tubers become lignified.
The mature cassavas storage root has 3 distinct tissues:

Land Preparation of Cassava

The bush is cleared with the cutlass. Stumping is done and hoe could be used to make heaps or ridges. Ploughing, harrowing and ridging can also be done mechanically.

Varieties/Cultivars of Cassava

There exist two main varieties: sweet cassav (Manihot palmata) and bitter cassavas (Manihot utilissima). The latter contains some poisonous hydrocyanic acid in its root.

Sweet Cassava: This variety of cassava has a higher sugar content compared to other types. It is often used for making desserts, and sweet snacks, or fermented into cassava-based beverages.

Bitter Cassava: Bitter cassava contains higher levels of cyanide compounds, which are toxic if consumed raw or improperly processed.

However, through proper cooking or processing methods, the toxic compounds can be removed, and bitter cassava can be used in various dishes.

Yellow Cassava: Yellow cassava is rich in beta-carotene, which gives it a yellowish colour. It is a good source of vitamin A and is often promoted as a biofortified crop to address vitamin A deficiency in certain regions.

White Cassava: White cassava is the most common variety and is widely grown for its starchy roots. It is versatile and can be used in various culinary applications, such as boiling, frying, or baking.

Wax Cassava: Wax cassava has a waxy texture and is often used for industrial purposes, such as producing starch, tapioca pearls, or animal feed.

Red Cassava: Red cassava has a reddish or purplish hue in its skin and flesh. It is often used in traditional dishes for its vibrant colour and unique flavour.

Improved Varieties: Over the years, plant breeders have developed improved varieties of cassava with enhanced traits, such as higher yields, disease resistance, or improved nutritional content.

These improved varieties aim to increase productivity and address specific challenges faced by cassava farmers.

Climatic and soil requirements for cassava cultivation

Cassava requires a temperature of 21C – 35C, rainfall of 150cm – 200cm, a well-drained, rich, friable, loamy soil. It can also grow m poor soil.

A good size for a cassavas garden is 10 m long and 2 m wide, with 32 cassava plants, 60 × 120 cm apart.

The ground should be dug well twice.
Double digging is needed to make the soil soft and to kill the weeds.

Ask a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture to recommend a suitable variety for the cassava project.

Light sandy soil is best with good drainage but almost any soil type can be used except salty or waterlogged soils.
Good yields can be obtained on heavily cropped soils so cassava is suitable as the last crop in crop rotation.

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During drought cassava stops growing and drops its leaves but it usually recovers well after new rain.

Cassava is a shrub of about 1-3m, with thin stems, large palm-shaped leaves, and a high yield of tuberous roots, the main part that is eaten,

but also leaves as edible vegetables. Most productive use of subsistence land, but all cassav is poisonous containing hydrocyanic acid, with the more toxic varieties

However, thorough cooking denatures the harmful toxins to make it safe to eat.

Method of Cassava propagation :

By stem cuttings which are planted from March to September.

Planting date for cassava:

Cassavas sticks or cuttings are planted from March to September.
Planting date: Cassav sticks or cuttings are planted from March to September


how to Space cassav during planting:

Cassavas is spaced 1m by 1m

Planting methods for cassava :

A stem cutting of 25 – 30cm long is pushed into the ridge or heap slanty at an angle of45°and C of it is buried. Sprouting occurs 7- 14 days later.

Cultural Practices in cassava cultivation

(i) Weeding: This is done regularly
(ii) Fertilizer Application: Apply 250kg/ha of NPK. Fertilizer four to six weeks after planning.

Classification of Cassava plant

Cassavas is a perennial crop but cultivated as an annual crop, a woody shrub with latex in all parts, 1 to 6 m in height.

Many varieties and cultivars exist but most are cultigens, i.e. known only as cultivated forms.

The bitter and sweet varieties of cassavas were formerly separate species, Manihot esculenta the bitter cassava and Manihot
palmata the sweet cassava.

However, the bitterness depends on many factors including soil, climate and location so now cassavas are informally divided into bitter and sweet types and sometimes into short-season and long-season cultivars.

Also, cassava formerly had the scientific name Manihot utilissima.
Nowadays all varieties and cultivars of cassavas have the same scientific name, Manihot esculenta

Maturity Period of cassava

This occurs between 8 – 15 months depending on varieties/

Cassava Harvesting Process:

Use a cutlass to remove some soil and pull the stem gently so that the tubers are pulled along or, use a cassava puller.


Cassava Processing :

Cassava is processed into garri, foo-foo, flour or livestock feed.
Storage: Cassav is stored in processed form in the sack as garri (cassava flour or foo foo).

importance of cassava

Cassav is an important source of starchy food in tropical regions.
Its cultivation needs little labour input so it is cheap to produce.

Cassav is a benchmark for food security because it is affordable to the poor.

Food Security: Cassava is a staple crop for millions of people in tropical regions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and South America.

It provides a reliable source of carbohydrates and calories, making it a crucial food security crop for communities in areas where other crops may not thrive.

Nutritional Value: Cassava is a good source of energy, dietary fibre, and essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, and minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

While it may not be rich in protein, it complements other food sources to provide a well-rounded diet.

Versatility: Cassava can be prepared and consumed in various forms. It can be boiled, steamed, fried, or mashed to create a wide range of dishes.

It can be used to make flour, starch, and other processed products such as tapioca pearls, chips, and cakes. Its versatility makes it suitable for different culinary traditions and preferences.

Drought Tolerance: Cassava is a hardy crop that thrives in poor soil conditions and can withstand drought and other adverse weather conditions better than many other crops.

This resilience makes cassava a valuable crop in regions prone to climate variability and unreliable rainfall.

Income Generation: Cassava farming provides income opportunities for small-scale farmers, especially in rural areas.

The crop can be sold fresh in local markets or processed into value-added products, enabling farmers to generate income and improve their livelihoods.

Pest of Cassava and control methods

(1) Variegated Grasshopper: Adults and nymphs eat up the leaves and young and eat up the tubers.
(i) Trapping
(ii) Shooting with a gun
(iii) Wire fencing around the farm

origin of cassava

Cassav has the scientific name, Manihot esculenta and is in the Family Euphorbiaceae, the spruce family, which includes natural rubber

(Hevea brasiliensis) castor oil (Ricinus comunis) and ornamentals, e.g. poinsettia (Euphorbia sp.).

Latex occurs in all parts of the plant and a related species Manihot glaziovii was formerly used in commercial rubber plantations to make rubber.

Most varieties of cassava are diploid with 2n chromosome number = 36.

Diseases of Cassava and control methods


Cassava mosaic disease :

It is caused by virus which is transmitted by a piercing and sucking insect (white flies).
Symptoms include vein clearing and distortion of the leaves and stunted plants

(i) Grow resistant varieties
(ii) Uproot and burn infected plants
(iii) Use disease-free planting materials

Bacteria blight of cassava :

It is caused by bacteria which are transmitted by infected cuttings.
These include angular, water-soaked areas of discoloured leaf tissue, blighting, wilting and reduction in yield.
(i) Use resistant varieties
(ii) Use lean and disease-free stem cuttings

Angular leaf spot of cassavas:

It is caused by a fungus.

Symptoms: include spores which produce pale, brownish colour on affected leaves.
(i) Spray with fungicide, e.g. Bordeaux mixture.


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