Ghana’s growth can be greatly enhanced by accelerated agricultural development. Agricultural outputs underpin many industrial operations in this country and beyond. Cassava is one of the easy-to-cultivate crops in this country, yet with numerous uses and a promising yield. It is able to withstand the weather conditions in Ghana. There are now numerous varieties of the crop that are suited to the conditions of sub-Saharan Africa and at the same time able to give high yields at harvest. Cassava production is now a lucrative business compared to other crops and even non-farm businesses.
Cassava production in Ghana has grown steadily from 8,107,000Mt in 2000 to 13,504,000Mt in 2010, and it is estimated to exceed 15,000,000Mt in 2015. The root crop has an achievable yield estimated at 48.7Mt per hectare under rain-fed conditions. The root part of the crop may vary significantly in size from 15 to 100 cm as well as in terms of weight from 0.5 to 2.0 kg.
The cassava farming business has several contiguous phases, from land preparation to harvesting. To remain in this business, the operational activities need to be handled seriously and some knowledge on the cultivation would help. However, it does not require everyday attention to do well. The cultivation includes clearing land, preparation for planting, planting, periodic spraying and then harvesting after 10 months. Casual labour may be employed intermittently to perform these activities over the period.
It is important to identify and use the right species of cassava and adopt appropriate farming practices, in order to be assured of good yield. Farming practices such as weeding, choosing healthy cassava sticks, spraying, the spacing between plants, planting, land preparation before planting and after harvesting, among others are key to succeeding in this business.
Transportation from farm site to the factory may also impact the fortune of the business and it is therefore important to have the farm situated within a reasonable radius of the factory. Transportation arrangement itself must be properly arranged and the timing carefully chosen in order to avoid having the harvest going bad before getting to the factory.
There is a cassava processing company in Ghana that processes the root crop into starch for industrial use. This is then used for various products such as some of the beer we see in our bars. The processing plant has a capacity of receiving about 400 tonnes of cassava for daily production, however, this quantity is not received and the factory has room to receive more cassava. This presents farmers and others looking to invest in the business with an almost guaranteed market for their harvest. However, the right variety of cassava must be chosen and cultivated in a manner that results in a good harvest.
There is also an opportunity for the root crop to be exported to other countries when the right variety is planted and harvested under acceptable practices. Usually it is the dried cassava or the cassava starch that is exported. However, only a small proportion of cassava production in the country is exported.
We have gathered information and estimated that it will cost about GHc1,050 to cultivate an acre of land which is expected to yield between 8 to 10 tons of harvest, largely depending on farming practices adopted. The price paid for a ton is about GHc180. There are however new species that have the potential to yield above 12 tons per acre. The business should start with at least 30 acres, in order to cover certain fixed cost within a reasonable time.
|Farm Size||Estimated Cost||Expected Harvest (GHc)|
|In acres||GHc||8 tonnes||9 tonnes||10 tonnes|
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
Pests and disease remain the major challenge in this business. However, with the right information and farming practices, these could be reduced to the barest minimum and can actually be eliminated. Another identified challenge is acquisition of land located within a reasonable radius of a buying company.
Investment type: Agriculture
Expected Return: 37%
Payback Period: 10months
Attention required: Moderate
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