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History of Cassava
Cassava appear to have originated in Brazil and Paraguay, but has spread throughout tropical areas of south and Central America long before the arrive of Columbus. It is now one of the most important food crops in tropical countries throughout the world. It ranks as the 6th most important food crop worldwide, even through in western countries it is little known or used.
It was introduced into Nigeria’s southern part during the period of slave trade proliferated by Portuguese explorers and colonizers in the sixteen century. However, its importance to the country got a boost in the late nineteenth century when more slaves returned to their homeland and introduced processing techniques. Over the years, it has become a major economic sustenance crop and it has attained the status of largest producer in the world with recorded production of 34 million tones and is a cash crop of great important to the people in Nigeria.
Type of cassava and their Maturity period
Cassava is one of the world’s most important food crops, providing quality carbohydrate in tropical regions where grains and potatoes grow poorly if at all. The root, also known as manioc or yucca can be stored for long periods in the ground as a hedge against famine. The leaves can also be eaten as a nutritious green vegetable, when others are unavailable.
Because roots can be harvested, cooked and eaten as soon as they form, there is technical no such thing as a “mature” cassava. However, the root tends to be big enough around nine months after planting. Early cultivars can be ready in as soon as six or seven months, while you can leave cassava in the ground to overwinter in frostless regions for as long as 16 months.
There are two major types of cassava, though they are used similarly.
i.                   Sweet Cassava
One of the major varieties of cassava is referred to as “sweet” cassava. This is not because it is high in sugar than other varieties, but because it is less poisonous. Cassava contains large quantities of cyanide compounds, which must be processed out of the tubers before they can be safety eaten. The sweet variety of cassava has fewer of these compounds, and does not require as much processing. Sweet varieties also produce higher yields.
ii.                Bitter Cassava
Bitter cassava is very similar in cultivation and general appearance to sweet cassava, but produces much higher quantities of cyanide compounds. Sweet cassava may contain as few as 40 part per million, while bitter cassava variety can range as high as 490 parts per million. Any quantity of cyanogens over 50 parts per million is considered to be hazardous. In unsettles regions, some farmers deliberately switch to bitter cassava as a deterrent to crop theft.
Type of land Suitable for Cassava
Soil most suitable for cassava/cassava is structured soil crusts, loose, not too tough and not too axle and rich in organic matter. Ground with crumb structure has good air system; nutrients are most readily available and easily processed.
Type of land suitable for growing cassava / cassava is a kind of alluvial latosol, podzolic yellow red, Mediterranean, grumosol and andosol.
The degree of acidity (pH) of land suitable for the cultivation of cassava ranged from 4.5 to 8.0 with a pH of 5.8 is ideal. Generally land in Indonesia low pH (acidic), which ranges from 4,0 – 5,5, so it often said to be fairly neutral for the proliferation of cassava plant.
Cassava can be grown on most soils, however the best soils are sandy, clay, loams that are well drained without a fluctuating water table. Proper soil management practices, adequate soil drainage and limestone applications at 2-4 t/ha incorporated into the soil 3 to 4 months before plating are necessary for the successful cultivation of cassava in the following “surgance” soils: Washington Series, Waterloo Series, Couva Series, Freeport Series, McBean Series, Cunupia Clay and Princess Town Clay.
Planting Season
Cassava is normally planted in May at the beginning of the rainy season. However, earlier planting in March and April can significantly increase tuber yields.
Cassava is grown throughout the year, making it preferable to the seasonal crops of yam, beans or peas. Cassava thrives best when rainfall is well distributed throughout the growing period and is not erratic. It displays an exceptional ability to adapt to climate change, with a tolerance to low soil fertility, resistance to drought conditions, pest and disease, and suitability to store its roots for long periods underground even after they mature. Use of fertilizers is limited, and it is also grown on fallow lands.
Cassava grows best in full sun or part shade, with moderate watering throughout the growing season. Since it follows a traditional schedules of spring planting, summer growth and fall harvest, it is susceptible to weeds and must be carefully tended until it is large enough to shade out competitors. Before being cooked, the tuber – as well stems and leaves- is poisonous to humans and animals and should not be consumed
Harvest Period
Cassava matures between 8 to 12 months after planting. Cutting back plants 2 weeks before harvesting should cause tubers to mature and increase yields by 10%. Do not weed before harvesting of the roots after planting varies from 6 months to 3 years. because tubers can be hares, cooked and eaten as soon as they form, there is technically no such thing as a “mature” cassava. However, the roots tend to be big enough around nine months after planting. Early cultivars can be ready in as soon as six or seven months, while you can leave cassava in the ground to overwinter in frostless region for as long as 16 months.
Waiting too long before harvesting cassava roots results in an unpleasant or woody-testing product, so refrain from going much past the 12 month mark. The easiest method of harvest is to cut stems and leaves down to ground level as week or two before pulling the roots from the ground. If you want to propagate your cassava, leave a few bushes undisturbed, as the cutting need to be fresh for planting each year.
Market for Cassava Product
Years now, Nigeria has maintained its domination as the highest producer of cassava. The root crop (manihot esculentus) grows abundantly on Nigeria soil. It is said, of 36 states in Nigeria 34 states cultivate cassava, and major staple food for the people.
Over 800 million people world-wide depend on cassava as a regular source of energy. Per capital consumption in west Africa is more than 120 kg per annum while that of central Africa republic is more than 300kg per annum.
Most business and investors don’t understand the untapped investment opportunities, even as Nigeria produces over 10 million tons annually. Farmers hardly see this crop as avenue to hit hard currency.
Tuber cassava retains assortments that make it look Hot cake. These include chips, flakes, cubes, peeler, starch and flour, pellet, e.t.c. Many European and Ameican countries, including: Germany, UK, France, the Netherlands among others demands huge quantities of processed cassava products annually. In fact, the use of cassava for mixing livestock feed in now in vogue in Europe, this has gain wide acceptance to an extent of recent release of European Economic Community of import of over 10 million metric tons per annum.
Apart from livestock feeds, processed cassava serves as industrial raw material for the production of adhesive bakery product, dextrin, dextrose glucose, lactose and sucrose. Dextrin is used as a binding agent in the paper and packing industry  and adhensive in cardboard, plywood and veneer binding.
Food and beverage industries use cassava products derivatives in the production of jelly caramel and chewing gum; pharmaceutical and chemical industries also use cassava alcohol (ethanol) in the production of cosmetics and drugs. The products also find ready in the manufacture of dry cell, textile and school chalk etc. cassava cubes are mainly in the compounding of livestock feeds. Thus there is a very high demand for cassava products in both the local and export markets.

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