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How to prepare cassava farms for maximum products


Cassava is either the first or the second most important staple food in
many sub-Saharan African countries. Cassava production and
processing practices remain largely habitual in most of the producing
countries despite the high potentials for its commercial production and
processing, its export potential, and its use in local industries to reduce
import expenditure on substitute imported products. Most cassava
farmers are either not aware of available modern technologies for
growing and processing cassava or lack the ability to use them.
There is also paucity of cassava production specialists, agribusiness
experts, processing and, agro-machinery experts to provide advice to
farmers, processors, product assemblers, and other value chain
actors. The lack of technical advice hinders the ability of small and
medium scale farmers to improve value chain efficiency and
profitability of their cassava enterprises. It contributes to the inability of
most farmers to manage cassava production as a business and
hinders processors from upgrading from the traditional rudimentary
processing methods to mechanical, high capacity, efficient and
profitable processing enterprises. Consequently, cassava value
chain actors in Africa are not competitive enough to participate in the
global market.
Although new commercial, medium-scale cassava farmers are
beginning to emerge in some cassava growing countries, such as in
DRC, Ghana and Nigeria, most of them use only some and not all
available or recently developed modern techniques that can increase
efficiency of growing and processing cassava. Inability to apply modern
technologies in a holistic or consolidated manner for cassava growing
and processing operations reduces the prospect to maximize profit.
This training manual was developed based on research results and
field experiences of cassava value chain development experts. It
provides consolidated and relevant set of techno-commercial oriented
information presented with simple annotated drawings to explain the
step-by-step use of improved techniques and tools of cassava
production, handling, processing, storage, quality assurance and
marketing.
The manual will be useful to farmers, processors, marketers, extension
agents and other experts who are supporting cassava
commercialization in Africa. The use of the manual by value chain
actors will enhance their knowledge and capacity to improve efficiency
of their cassava related operations and can increase profitability
2 Cassava stem handling for increased yield
Background
Cassava is propagated by stem cuttings. These cuttings must be
handled properly for good sprouting and establishment. In this section
we look at the best practices in stem handling for increased yield.
Preparing healthy cassava stems for planting.
How to plant cassava cuttings
Stored cassava stems under the shed
Cassava cuttings
Avoid destroying
nodes and jagged cuts
should be stored vertically on the soil under a shade. The
distal end of the stems should touch the soil, which is moistened
regularly, with the surroundings kept free from weeds.
Handle the stems with care not to destroy the nodes that may
result in losses. Do not make jagged cut surfaces or keep stems
in the open (leading to drying)
Cut stems, with sharp tools, preferably secateurs or cutlasses,
into 25-cm cuttings with 5–7 nodes ,
Obtain stems for planting from mature plants 10–12 months old.
Store under the shade for 2–5 days (never more than 2 weeks)
before cutting and planting. This makes the stems sprout faster
than when they are planted freshly cut from the field.
Cassava cuttings can be planted in a slanting or angular position
(45 ). In this case, the cuttings are buried in the soil with one-third
above the soil surface. Ensure that the buds point upwards. This
is where the cuttings sprout (Fig 4a).
Cuttings can also be planted in a horizontal position in which the
cuttings are completely buried in the soil to a depth.


Rapid multiplication in a nursery using 2-node cassava
stakes:
Step 1: Plant the cuttings at a spacing of 1 m × 1 m on the crest of ridges
or mounds as conventionally recommended. This will give a plant
population of 10,000 stands/ha.
Vertical or angular planting is recommended in areas of high
rainfall
Horizontal planting is better in dry areas.
Rapid multiplication technique can be used to produce large quantities
of cassava stems as planting materials for subsequent seasons.
Select and use improved, healthy, and pest/disease free cassava
stems.
Cut the stems into several 2-node or 3-node stakes using
secateurs, a sharp knife/machete, or a stake cutting machine.
Treat the stakes with available insecticides or fungicides by
measuring out the quantities into a container, add water and
mix thoroughly. For example, 1kg of Neem leaf powder in 5L of
water. Put the stakes into the solution for 10 minutes.
Remove from the solution and place in perforated transparent
polythene bags for pre-sprouting.
Step 3: Store in the polythene bags under the shade of a tree or under
the cassava canopy or in a farm shed for 7–10 days to sprout.


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