Why is this topic important to listeners?
Because farmers involved in cassava production need to know (that):
- Cassava is the second most important food crop after yam in this country, and cassava production, most of which is located in the southern half of the country, covers about 80% of national territory.
- Cassava is both a subsistence and a cash crop for producers.
- When and how to plant cassava, in order to have a good yield.
- Which cassava varieties should be favoured.
- How to reduce the risks of production loss related to cultivation practices.
- When and where to buy inputs and how to store them.
- The right timing for preparing the land, planting, tending to the field, harvesting, and selling.
- How to control pests.
- The potential of this consumable crop from leaves to roots.
- Opportunities for income with many cassava-based products.
- How to make cassava a profitable crop.
Expected impact of climate change on cassava farming
- The impacts of climate change mean that farmers need to reorganize agricultural activities, since the planting of cuttings is linked to the arrival of the first rains, and these rains are delayed by climate change.
- The increase in drought not only reduces yields but also increases harvesting difficulties due to the hardness of the soil.
What are the key facts about cassava production practices?
- Cassava is a plant that comes from Latin America. It is highly appreciated in West Africa and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire where attiéké, a dish based on cassava semolina, is popular and has even spread beyond the borders of the country and the continent.
- Cassava is consumed in West Africa and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire where it was introduced by the Akan immigrant populations from southern Ghana, notably the Abourés and the Alladians.
- Cassava is a widely consumed food in sub-Saharan Africa because it can be transformed into many products and is grown in a wide variety of soils.
- Cassava can be used for food self-sufficiency, as well as for the empowerment of women, for example, through the additional income opportunity it provides when properly exploited.
- Cassava is sold at a higher price during the dry seasons.
- Cassava is grown between May and August and harvested between November and April of the following year to improve income.
- Cassava has many uses, either for human or animal consumption or for processing:
- At the domestic level a wide variety of foods are made using a base of cassava: attiéké, foutou, gari, toh, ragoût, tapioca (semolina), placali, atoukpou, konkonte (Ghana) / konkonde (Côte d’Ivoire), etc. These foods are rich in iron. Cassava leaves are a nutritious vegetable for households. The peels of cassava can be transformed into food for cattle, buffalo, pigs, and chickens.
- At the industrial level, cassava is used to produce liquor, beer (e.g. in Ghana, Cameroon and Mozambique), flour, bread, pellets, textile finishing (as starch), glue, and other products. The starch from cassava tubers is used in the production of plywood, paper, and textiles, among other things. Cassava is used as a raw material for the manufacture of sweeteners, fructose, alcohol, and ethanol fuel.
Gender aspects of cassava production practices
- Cassava farming in Côte d’Ivoire involves, albeit unequally, men, women, and young people, who are increasingly interested in this activity.
- Eighty per cent of cassava producers in Côte d’Ivoire are women.
- Women are still far from gaining access to land ownership. They are either tenants of the land they cultivate, or dependent on the will of their husbands, who are the owners of the land, with the constraints that this imposes on them. In addition, there is a lack of agricultural mechanization in the cultivated land that women farm and that is owned by their husbands.
- Unequal access to information, knowledge, and technical know-how is a key constraint to women’s productivity and efficiency. This inequality largely explains why women tend to remain concentrated in the least skilled and least profitable links of many agribusiness value chains, including cassava.
- Trade requires systematic access to market prices and knowledge about buyers. Most women do not have these skills because they have traditionally been confined to activities on the farm.
- Men, on the other hand, are involved in commercial activities such as wholesaling, marketing, and trading of agricultural products.
- Commercial intermediaries and buyers exploit the female producers they buy directly from because these producers are not aware of market prices.
Key information on good cassava farming practices
As with any crop, preparing the land remains one of the most important steps to obtain a good yield.
- Choose the plot in March to April of the first year, preferably a plateau plot, while avoiding low-lying, steeply-sloping, and poorly-drained areas. The type of soil suitable for this crop is one that contains some sand and some clay, but avoid clay soils.
- Do not plant cassava in the same plot where it was planted the previous year.
- Choose a plot, a portion of fallow land, or a plot where a food crop (e.g., beans or groundnuts) was harvested to avoid diseases and impoverishing the soil.
- Choose land with easy access to facilitate the flow of production.
- Prepare the land using a hoe between May and June, clearing the entire area to be farmed to make it clean (weed-free).
- If farmers don’t plough the land on which they will plant, they should plant cuttings in mounds or ridges.
- Bury any remaining crop residues so that they will rot during the following months.
- Clear the land either manually or mechanically, taking care to remove as many tree stumps as possible.
- Stake to better distribute cuttings in the field.
- Keep 1 metre between stakes and 1 metre between rows. The recommended planting density is 10,000 cuttings per hectare.
- Buy cuttings one week before the May to June planting period.
- Choose cuttings of cassava varieties that are resistant to disease, drought-tolerant, and productive. When you obtain cuttings, make sure to procure additional cuttings to replace cuttings that do not germinate or thrive.
- To obtain quality cuttings, contact a multiplier supervised by an agricultural extension organization.
- An area measuring half a hectare (5,000 m2) requires 5,000 cassava cuttings; however, make sure to have some additional cuttings to replace any plants which fail or die.
- When planted alongside plantain, the recommended density is 3,000 cuttings per hectare.
- Prepare cuttings the day before planting to ensure good germination*. To prepare, choose cuttings with 4-5 eyes and cut stems into 20-25 cm pieces. Ensure that cuttings are 7-8 months old and not injured or diseased.
- Make sure that the cuttings are taken from the central part of the stem.
- When planting, make a hole 10 cm deep. Cassava cuttings should be spaced 25 to 30 cm from each stake. This aerates the soil and helps the cassava tubers thrive.
- Plant one cutting per hole at an angle of 45 degrees, with more than half of the cutting in the soil and the nodes/eyes facing upwards. Avoid planting cuttings upside down, as this hinders germination.
- Replace dead plants/cuttings one month after planting.
- These varieties are used to make the following dishes:
- Bocou 1 – attiéké, placali, foutou,
- Yavo – foutou, attiéké, placali,
- TMS4 (2)1425 – attiéké, foutou,
- Yacé – attiéké
- Fertilize 60 days after planting in August-September to maximize yield. For details on recommended products, ask an agricultural extension organization for advice.
- Add 20 g or NPK 10-18-18 for each cutting—five full soda caps. This is equivalent to 100 kg or 2 bags for a half-hectare plantation.
- Spread the fertilizer in a 30 cm circle around each cassava plant, then ridge* (gather the soil around the plants), while covering the fertilizer with soil.
- Alternatively, use organic manure such as chicken droppings or any other manure at a rate of 10 tons per hectare.
- Weed the field in March, June, September, and December.
- If using herbicides, apply the rate indicated on the herbicide label. Note that there is no selective * herbicide for cassava yet. Instead, there are non-selective * herbicides, which should also be used to clear the field of weeds before planting.
- As the weeds compete with cassava plants for water, sunlight, and nutrients, it is recommended to remove them from the field as early as the first month after planting, using a machete or a hoe. This prevents weeds from growing to knee height (30-40 cm.)
Use of pesticides
- Insecticides and fungicides are not only dangerous for human health, but also for the environment.
- To use plant protection products safely, it is important to observe a minimum number of rules, especially those approved by specialized agricultural advisory organizations.
Pest and disease control
- Control pests (including locusts) from May to October by planting healthy (disease-free) cuttings from the central parts of the stem.
- Treat cuttings that are lightly infested with green mites, mealy bugs, and other pests by soaking them in hot water for 5-10 minutes just before cutting.
- Remove contaminated stems during the phase when cassava is growing, after the roots are harvested, and from stored bundles.
- To deter termite attack, cover the cut ends of the cutting with a wet paste made of a mixture of soil and oil.
- Observe the field and the cassava plants regularly to detect possible attacks as soon as possible.
- Treat with a recommended insecticide in case of major attacks or if insect pest problems persist, while respecting the rules of pesticide use.
- Apply insecticides only in the early morning or evening when there is no wind. All insecticide treatments must be stopped one month before the beginning of the harvest.
- Harvest cassava from November-December of the first year. Harvest cassava at a time that is suitable for the variety and intended use. Farmers may harvest gradually if cassava is used both to earn income and feed the family.
- Harvest cassava from 10 months after planting the cuttings, or from the 12th month if the crop is intended for local consumption. Harvesting can continue for 8-9 months, as cassava has a life cycle of 12-24 months.
- Harvest cutting the stem at about knee height with a machete or pruning shears*, and then pulling it out of the ground. Detach the tubers from the stem without injuring them in order to preserve quality.
- Sell cassava from January of the second year until April. If you want to sell the crop to a factory for industrial use, harvest the cassava tuber between 15 and 20 months after planting.
- If cassava is used for animal feed, harvest after November/December, when the roots are bigger.
- Farmers may receive a higher return by selling cassava through a co-operative, which can negotiate good prices while offering other services to its members.
- Yield depends on the soil, the variety, and the cultivation method. But the average yield obtained with improved varieties is 20-30 tons per hectare.
Lack of farm mechanization
- Cassava farming in Côte d’Ivoire is hampered by the total absence of agricultural mechanization.
- In the absence of tractor farming, manual plowing remains a tedious task.
Germination: The entire process by which a seed develops and gives birth to a new plant.
Mounding: Mounding, in agriculture and gardening, is a cultivation operation that consists in moving the soil in the form of a “mound” at the foot of the plants.
Pruning shears: Pruning shears are a tool used by farmers or horticulturists for pruning operations. They are a kind of sturdy pair of scissors that can be used to cut small branches with one hand.
Selective herbicides: Selective herbicides manage specific plants or types of types, while leaving other plants unharmed. By contrast, non-selective herbicides typically kill all plants they come into contact with.
Where can I find more resources on this topic?
- Agence Ecofin, 2020. Lancer son entreprise : Produire le manioc et ses dérivés. https://www.agenceecofin.com/lancer-son-entreprise/2402-74157-produire-le-manioc-et-ses-derives
- Dali, A. K. L. E., et Yoboua, K. N. E., 2017. Fiche Technicoéconomique du Manioc. http://www.anader.ci/fichetech/fiche%20technico-economique%20du%20manioc.pdf (1.08 MO)
- FAO, 2017. Champs-Écoles des Producteurs Document D’orientation: Planifier des programmes de qualité. http://www.fao.org/3/i5296f/i5296f.pdf(3.02 MO)
- FAO, 2020. Développer des chaînes de valeur sensibles au genre – Guide pratique à l’attention des praticiens. http://www.fao.org/3/i9212fr/I9212FR.pdf (4.70 MO)
- Fonds Interprofessionnel pour la Recherche et le Conseil Agricoles (FIRCA), 2018. La Filière du Progrès: La Filière Manioc. https://firca.ci/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Journal-manioc.pdf (11 MO)
- GIZ, 2016. Faire de bonnes affaires avec la culture de Manioc, Référentiel technico-économique Côte d’Ivoire. (2.69 MO)
- James, B., et al, 2000. Comment démarrer un champ de manioc. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. https://books.google.ci/books?id=XRSM3oEUypMC&printsec=frontcover&hl=fr&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
- James, B., et al, 2000. Lutte contre les ravageurs du manioc. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. http://hubrural.org/IMG/pdf/iita_pest_control_cassava_fr.pdf (1319 KO)
- Le Centre Technique de Coopération Agricole et Rurale (CTA), 2017. Mécanisation : les femmes aux manettes (Reportage au Bénin). https://spore.cta.int/fr/dossiers/article/mecanisation-les-femmes-aux-manettes-sid0b37b5655-2019-4ffe-899b-dcff23777a1a
- Le Hub Rural. Le manioc offre de fortes opportunités pour l’adaptation au changement climatique. http://www.hubrural.org/Le-manioc-offre-de-fortes.html?lang=fr
- Lida, D. S., et al, 2016. Changement climatique et rapport aux innovations technologiques agricoles dans la culture de manioc chez les paysans de Grand-Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire). Revue Sociétés & Economies, No. 9, 2016. https://agritrop.cirad.fr/587582/1/Pages%20de%20Revue%20Soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9s%20%26%20Economies%20N%C2%B09%20-%202016.pdf (574 KO)
- Royaume des Pays-Bas: Programme ACMA2, sans date. Itinéraire technique du Manioc. https://ifdc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/FICHE-TECHNIQUE-4-ITINERAIRE-TECHNIQUE-DU-MANIOC-CASSAVA-TECHNICAL-ITINERARY.pdf (4.65 MO)
- Sei, A. K., 2015. Quand le manioc devient une stratégie de résilience face aux changement climatiques dans le département de Zuénoula (Cote d’Ivoire). Rev. ivoir. anthropol. sociol. KASA BYA KASA, n° 30, 2015. http://www.revues-ufhb-ci.org/fichiers/FICHIR_ARTICLE_723.pdf (373 KO)
- Vernier, P., N’Zué, B., et Zakhia-Rozis, N., 2018. Le manioc, entre culture alimentaire et filière agro-industrielle. Le Centre Technique de Coopération Agricole et Rurale (CTA). https://agritrop.cirad.fr/587188/1/9782759227082.pdf (18.2 MO)
Contributed by: Serge Adam’s Diakite, freelance journalist in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Reviewed by: Kouassi Yao Alex, Green Innovation Centre for the Agro-Food Sector (GIC) Project, Special Initiative “One World Without Hunger” (SEWoH), Value Chain Technical Advisor, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire