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How to Grow Cassava in Uganda

Are you planning to start growing cassava on commercial scale in Uganda? 

.....just a hobbyist planning to start a small cassava garden in your backyard and are looking around the internet for tips and ideas? 

May be your searching online to buy some African cassava for consumption at home/school/hospital/camp/hotel/party? 

.....Or your looking for quality cassava stem cuttings for planting?

Cassava Plant with Tubers in UgandaCassava Plant with Tubers in Uganda

What ever your quest about cassava growing in Africa is, kindly take time to scan through this plant guide for some answers and you will be one step ahead of the pack of many farmers who start without planning.

Cassava is a perennial shrub, which produces enlarged tuberous roots. Its height ranges from about 1 to 3 m or more. The stems are usually small and glabrous with nodes. The leaves vary in color from green to reddish. There is a great variation in tuber number, shape and size and the angle at which they penetrate the ground. Each cassava plant usually usually bares 5-10 tubers.

A compound called hydrocyanic glycoside is present in each cassava variety at varying quantities and it’s this compound which makes the tuber sour some times.Cassava clones are often classified by taste ‘sweet’ or ‘bitter’.

The toxicity of a cultivar varies according to environmental growth conditions. However, in any one location it’s possible to find some cultivars bitter and others sweet so that a local separation between bitter and sweet can often be made.

On this Uganda plant guide we share some useful info about growing Cassava in Africa, including;

You also have the opportunity to ask the plant guide questions about growing cassava in Uganda.

How to classify Cassava in Uganda

East Africa has several cassava varieties. These do have different attributes, like they differ in softness, sweetness, and maturity period, susceptibility to pests and diseases, and tuber yields.

The current new varieties are NASE1 to 12 however NASE (1, 2, 3 and 4) are tolerant to drought, resistant to mosaic and very high yielding. Though the mentioned varieties are bitter, this is due to the high concentration of hydrocyanic acids in the fresh tuber.

What your Cassava needs to grow

Your cassava will require optimum temperatures ranging from 25-30°C with a minimum temperature of 18°c. This explains the fall in yields where temperatures are above 30°C.

A well distributed annual rainfall of 1000_1500mm is ideal but the crop can successfully grow in areas with rainfall ranging from 500-2500mm.

Soil; light sandy loam soils with medium fertility give the best result.

Though the crop can tolerate soils of low fertility, especially if feeder roots can penetrate deeper, deep cultivation before planting is therefore recommended.

What to plant on Cassava

Cassava Stem sproutingCassava Stem sprouting

Cassava is propagated by cuttings got from a cassava plant stem. To make cuttings, choose stems 2 to 4 cm thick, from the strongest plants which are not diseased and have already produced tubers.

After the harvest, tie the selected stems in bundles, wait for at least 10 days before planting them. Keep the bundles in a cool, dry place until planting time. But remember that the cuttings must not be made from the stem until you are ready to plant.

Cut each stem into pieces 20 to 30cm long. There should be 4 to 6 grown buds on each piece.

How to plant your cassava in the Soil

In most East African countries cassava is still planted by hand. And planting is done at the onset of the rain season, often in flat fields, though planting on ridges is desirable in wet regions.

You can cut the sticks obliquely or at a right angle to the stem being cut.

You can then plant your cutting vertically or at an angle, with half their length in the soil, or flat below the surface.

How to weed cassava in Uganda

Weeding your cassava plantation is so important during the early stages.

It’s good to interplant your cassava with other crops like beans during early stages to suppress the weeds You need to weed 3 to 4 weeks after planting.

Earth up plants (add soil on plants) during weeding as this greatly helps in tuber formation.

You may also use some chemicals to control weeds.

So, how long will your cassava take to grow?

Generally cassava reaches maturity in 9-24 months or up to 36 months depending on the variety, climate and soil conditions.

Some quick growing cultivars can be harvested in 6-7 months, but good yields are normally obtained after 9-12 months.

When used fresh, the tubers are normally only obtained after 9-12 months, otherwise they become very fibrous.

About Ratooning in Cassava

After 6 months your cassava stems are old enough to be cut and planted elsewhere. The stem is cut without up-rooting the cassava.

You can plant the healthy stems to other fields or sell them to other farmers.

Fresh vegetative parts will grow within weeks.

How to harvest and store your cassava

Depending on the variety, harvesting cassava for food could begin from the 7th month after planting for early maturing varieties; or after the 10th month for late varieties.

For a smallholder farmer you can harvest the tubers as you need them; without cutting the stems, begin by taking the biggest tubers from each plant, leaving the small ones to give them time to fill up.

As a commercial farmer you would typically harvest all the cassava at the same time.

Once cassava is ready it should be harvested, because when left in the ground for a long period your cassava tubers will lose quality due to hydrolysis of starch.

Quick Tips for Planting your Cassava in Africa

  • Cut selected cassava stems for planting in to either 2 node or 3 node pieces
  • Treat steaks with available pesticide or fungicide before planting
  • Locally you can use Neem leaf powder. In 5liters of water add 1 kg of the powder
  • Measure out the required quantity and then put the stakes in to the solution for 10 min
  • For the 2 node stakes keep them in transparent polythene to germinate for ten days then transfer to the field
  • For the 3node pieces remove from the solution and expose them to light for 20min then plant directly
  • Planting can be at slanting or angular positions in a hole of not more than 5cm
  • And harvest accordingly after 12months from planting
  • Ensure to plant your cassava in rows to ease weeding


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