Notes to broadcasters
Cassava is a major crop in some parts of Nigeria, and the country is the world’s largest producer of cassava.
In these spots, you will learn more about a variety of activities related to cassava, including:
- Financial planning
- Land preparation
- Sourcing inputs
- The benefits of keeping written records
- Treating stem cuttings before planting
- Preventing cassava diseases
- Marketing your cassava
- Adding value to cassava
The spots vary in length from about 45-60 seconds and could be played multiple times during programs on cassava production and post-harvest activities. They could also be played at other times when farmers are listening, especially during important times in the seasonal cassava calendar.
First, it should detail exactly how much funds farmers have—and how much they need.
Second, it should identify how much money they need from other sources.
And finally, it should identify where farmers will get that money—for example, from a co-operative, from a lender, or from a micro-finance institution.
Land preparation is removing vegetation, stones, and other unwanted materials from a field without destroying the soil. For cassava, land preparation can include ploughing, harrowing, and ridging.
Here are three types of benefits to preparing your land.
First, ploughing, for example, breaks down and softens soil. That makes it easier for water to enter the soil rather than running of. It also makes it easier for cassava stems to germinate and for cassava roots to penetrate the soil and grow large and healthy. Softer soil makes all farming operations easier.
Second, ploughing can reduce competition, from weeds especially when crop residues are ploughed back into the soil.
And finally, softer, finer soil gives a bigger yield of healthy cassava roots.
Start preparing your land before the rains, so that you are ready to plant as soon as the rains start.
First, choose the best suppliers. To do that, you must first know exactly what you need. Then, make your own decision based on considering your own experience and that of other farmers. And then comparing suppliers on quality and cost.
Second, know exactly when to start purchasing your inputs. You should start purchasing inputs after you sell your harvest and while you still have sales income.
Third: Join a farmers’ group or co-operative society. This will make it easier for you to access inputs, obtain loans to buy inputs, and make group purchases. This all saves you money!
First, when you keep records, it’s much easier to know if you made a profit or a loss.
Second, keeping records makes it easier to do your farming activities at the right time of the season!
Third, recordkeeping gives farmers the information they need to properly plan for both the family and the future.
And I’ll throw in another benefit: If you have written records, it’s easier to get loans and credit!
Here’s how to treat your stem cuttings before planting to protect them from pests and diseases.
Treatment of cassava cuttings means applying synthetic or biological products to protect them from being damaged by termites and preventing the transferring of pests and diseases from old farms to new ones.
Synthetic products include broad-spectrum insecticides, and fungicides. Biological products include wood ash and neem extract.
Farmers should dip or spray their cuttings, then allowed them to dry in the shade before planting.
Also, allowing the cuttings to be in the open sun can kill some micro-organisms and insects and or their eggs.
But remember: The best single method to ensure that your stems remain pest and disease-free is to procure healthy, pest- and disease-free cuttings.
So here are six ways to prevent cassava diseases.
First: Plant disease-free cuttings!
Second: Plant varieties that are resistant to disease!
Third: Regularly monitor your cassava farm for signs of disease.
Fourth: Treat cassava cuttings with fungicides before planting.
Fifth: Weed your cassava field regularly.
And sixth: Rotate crops instead of growing cassava continuously in the same field.
But why would cassava farmers want to use these prevention strategies?
That’s easy! Because they will boost your yield and your income. And your family will be more food-secure and more prosperous.
Marketing is all about getting produce to a consumer at the right time, the right price, and in the right condition.
But marketing is also about ensuring that farmers are rewarded fairly for their efforts.
To get the best price for cassava roots, farmers must identify buyers before planting and they should work together in a farmer group.
Why should they sell in groups? For one thing, because it’s much easier for farmer groups to develop contracts with buyers.
When farmers join groups, they also have better access to credit, good quality transportation to markets, and better contacts with off-takers.
And here’s a final tip for marketing your cassava roots: Consider purchasing or renting a mobile processing unit. Perhaps you could rent it together with your farmer group.
Processing your cassava roots can boost your income and diversify the types of customers you can sell to.
So marketing is all about giving the customer what they want—and reaping the rewards!
But why would a farmer want to add value to cassava roots? Is it worth the effort?
The answer is yes! Here are three benefits of adding value to cassava roots.
First, value-added cassava products have a much longer shelf life than cassava roots. So you can sell them and make income by over a longer period of time.
Second, you don’t waste any of your harvest. Whatever you don’t eat or sell can be processed.
Third, you increase your profits. Value-added products bring a higher price than roots.
Farmers, the best time to process and add value to your cassava roots is right after harvest! You can add value at home or take cassava tubers to a processing centre near your farm.
Contributed by: Vijay Cuddeford, Managing editor, Farm Radio International
Reviewed by: Bidemi Ajibola, Advisor, Cassava Value Chain, Green Innovation Centre for the Agriculture & Food Sector, Nigeria; and Stephen Babajide, Agricultural Extension & Communication Advisor, Green Innovation Centre for the Agriculture & Food Sector, Nigeria.