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Casava

Cassava is grown in all the states of the federation with current production level about 45 million metric tons per annum, a figure expected to be double by 2020.

Nigeria is the leading cassava producer in the world, we have in abundance for both local and international market, fresh, dried, powdered and processed cassava.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a shrub grown in the tropics and subtropics for its underground starchy tuberous roots. Cassava roots, also called cassava tubers, are a major staple food for more than 800 million people in the world

Cassava is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root, which grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Cassava originated from tropical America and was first introduced into Africa in the Congo basin by the Portuguese around 1558. Today, it is a dietary staple in much of tropical Africa.

It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals. However, nutrient composition differs according to variety and age of the harvested crop, and soil conditions, climate, and other environmental factors during cultivation.

Importance
In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) cassava is mainly a subsistence crop grown for food by small-scale farmers who sell the surplus. It grows well in poor soils with limited labor requirements. It provides food security during conflicts when the invader cannot easily destroy or remove the crop, since it conveniently grows underground. Cassava is usually intercropped with vegetables, plantation crops (such as coconut, oil palm, and coffee), yam, sweet potato, melon, maize, rice, groundnut, or other legumes. The application of fertilizer remains limited among small-scale farmers due to the high cost and lack of availability. Roots can be harvested between 6 months and 3 years after planting.

Apart from food, cassava is very versatile and its derivatives and starch are applicable in many types of products such as foods, confectionery, sweeteners, glues, plywood, textiles, paper, biodegradable products, monosodium glutamate, and drugs. Cassava chips and pellets are used in animal feed and alcohol production.

Production
More than 228 million tons of cassava were produced worldwide in 2007, of which Africa accounted for 52%. In 2007, Nigeria produced 46 million tons making it the world’s largest producer. According to 2002 FAO estimates, Africa exports only one ton of cassava annually.

Cassava production depends on a supply of quality stem cuttings. The multiplication rate of planting materials is very low compared to grain crops, which are propagated by true seeds. In addition, cassava stem cuttings are bulky and highly perishable as they dry up within a few days.

Harvesting
Nineteen million hectares of cassava were planted worldwide in 2007, with about 63% in Africa. Cassava requires less labor than all other staple crops (21% in working days as compared to maize, yam and rice). However, it requires considerable postharvest labor because the roots are highly perishable and must be processed into a storable form soon after harvest. Roots can be harvested between six months and three years after planting.

Many varieties contain a substance called cyanide that can make the crop toxic if inadequately processed. Various processing methods, such as grating, sun drying, and fermenting, are used to reduce the cyanide content.

Consumption
Nearly every person in Africa eats around 80 kilograms of cassava per year. It is estimated that 37% of dietary energy comes from cassava. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the largest consumer of cassava in SSA, followed by Nigeria.