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Cassava (Manihot esculenta) [Local names: Muhogo, Omuogo, Mariwa, Marieba] is drought tolerant and produces reasonable yields under adverse climatic conditions.

The crop can grow well and achieve good yields in areas where annual rainfall is as low as 500 mm, well-distributed in the growing season. Water-logged, compact soils or hard pan interferes with free root development.

The crop can remain in the soil as a famine reserve for a reasonable period of time after maturity. Other factors that make cassava popular with small-scale farmers are that it requires little labour in its production and there are no labour peaks because the necessary operations in its production can be spread throughout the year, and its yields fluctuate less than those of cereals.


Site selection
The site should have full sunlight and deep and light soils. 


Cassava will benefit from being grown after a legume crop or a leguminous cover crop.

 Altitude range

Cassava can be grown at altitudes between 0 – 1500 m.a.s.l.

Soil type and conditions

Cassava requires deep, well-drained, light (sandy to sandy loam) soils for good root development. Medium fertile sandy loams with a pH of 4.5 – 6.5 are the most suitable.   

Temperature range

The preferred day temperatures during the growing period should be 25 – 29 oC.


The rainfall should be 1000 – 1500 mm p.a., but the crop can grow well and achieve good yields in areas where annual rainfall is as low as 500 mm, provided it is well-distributed over the growing season.

Land preparation
Cassava production requires land which is well prepared to medium tilth. 

Steps during land preparation

  • Prepare land early, preferably 2 months before planting.
  • Plough deep to allow for root establishment
  • Harrow to a medium tilth

Prepare clean, disease-free planting materials from improved varieties of plants 6-8 months old.

For rapid multiplication, prepare mini-stem cuttings of 2-4 nodes in length.

Nursery practices

  • Select a well-drained, flat site for the nursery bed, near a source of water.
  • Prepare nursery beds of 1.0 – 1.2 m width, and at least 30 cm high, and of required length.
  • Hardwood mini cuttings are planted horizontally, at a spacing of 10 cm x 10 cm, and at a depth of 4 cm to 5 cm. Place cuttings so that two adjacent nodes are on the right and left sides
  • Semi-mature cuttings and tip-shoot cuttings are planted vertically at a spacing of 10 cm x 10 cm with two-thirds of the cuttings and the old ends buried in the soil. After planting the nursey beds should be watered regularly.
  • For rapid seed multiplication, plant mini-stem cuttings in strong, perforated, black, disposable bags / containers filled with good quality garden soil; or soil-less media, following the same planting procedure as for nursery beds.
Select preferred variety with greater emphasis on improved cassava varieties without cyanide poisoning. 

Recommended varieties

Migyera, MM96/9308, MM06/0074, MM06/0131, MM06/0013, MH95/0183, MM96/1642, MM98/3567, MM96/4271, MM96/2480, MM97/0293, MM96/0868, MM06/0138, MM06/0139

Plant at the onset of the rainy season. It is recommended to plant after the first well-defined rains to avoid losing the plants and to ensure they are exposed to as many months of rain as possible. 

Common planting materials

Obtain planting materials from accredited nurseries/institutions like KALRO.

Common planting materials are:

  • Seeds
  • Mini-stem cuttings of 2-4 nodes, semi-mature cuttings, tip shoot mini-stem cuttings

Plant or transplant cuttings in a well-prepared field at a spacing of either 100 cm x 50 cm or 50 cm x 50 cm.

There are three different orientations in which cassava can be planted: 


  • Vertical or angled (slanting) orientation:- Plant the stakes at an angle of 45o–60o. Place ⅔ of the stake buried in the soil and ensure the buds are facing upwards.
  • Horizontal planting (flat): - Burry the cutting 5 to 10cm horizontally so that the entire cutting lies beneath the soil. Flat position is done during dry season.

  • Cuttings planted vertically at an angle sprout within 7-10 days while cuttings planted horizontally sprout within 14-21 days

Water management
Water immediately after planting, keep watering twice a day. 

Water the tip shoots lightly 3 times daily (Tip shoots are sensitive to low humidity). Keep the nursery beds weed free and cover the cuttings exposed during watering.

Weed Management
Weed control is important in obtaining high yields in cassava.

Weeding 3-5 times in the growing season may be sufficient. Remove the weeds around the plants by hand to avoid disturbing the roots and injuring the shoots.

When cassava is relay-cropped in cereals like maize, cassava cuttings should be planted after the final weeding of the prior crop.

Soil fertility
Cassava has high nutrient requirements and hence the need to replenish the nutrients removed.

Cassava nutrient requirements include: N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cl, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo and Zn. It is important to replenish phosphorus and potassium regularly.

Apply fertilizer to the ratooned fields.

Crop management

Handle stems with care when harvesting, loading & transporting to avoid damaging the buds.

Tie the harvested stems together in bundles of 50 or 100 & package for sale in bags (1,000 cuttings/bag).

Harvesting of planting materials can start 6-8 months after transplanting. Cut the stems at a height of 20-25 cm above the ground. This Can be done up to three times. However, tip shoots can be cut several times in a year to serve as a source of seeds for a long period of time.

The cut stumps will sprout (ratoon) into several shoots, allow only 2-3 to grow.

Cassava can be intercropped with short crops such as grain legumes and pulses which mature in three months.

Intercropping ensures maximum land utilization since mean maturity period of cassava is 12 months.

Pest Management

Pests include:

(i)Cassava Green Mites (CGM),

(ii)Cassava Mealy bugs,


(iv)Livestock and wild game 

Control of Cassava Green Mites (CGM),

  1. Select CGM tolerant varieties
  2. Adjust planting time for the crop to escape severe damage at young stage.
  3. Biological control: several predatory mites such as aripo feeds on cassava green mites in some parts of western Kenya
  4. Rain drops also reduce CGM populations considerably

Control of mealy bug

  • Plant resistant/tolerant varieties
  • Apply Indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) g. trapping, keeping fields clean
  • Diversify: grow different varieties in the same field
  • Biological Control using parasitic wasp (Epidinocarsis lopezi wasp)
  • During heavy rains many mealy bugs are washed off their host, infestations are thus most serious during the dry season.


Control cassava roots damage by moles

  • Crop rotation can minimize mole damage on roots.
  • Indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) has been used successfully by some farmers


Livestock & Wild Game

Control livestock damage by fencing.

Disease management

Major diseases include:

(i)Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and

(ii)Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD)

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD)

Management of cassava mosaic virus

  • Plant resistant varieties/disease free materials
  • Crop hygiene: Rogue infected plants
  • Isolate new cassava fields from older diseased fields to minimize inoculum build-up
  • Crop rotation


Management of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD)

  1. Resistant varieties/disease-free planting materials
  2. Harvest early, before symptoms reach at severity of 3 on grading scale of 1-5 in the roots.
  3. CBSD incidence is greatest at low altitude, and the disease has been observed at 1400 m. a.s.l.
Cassava is ready for harvesting 9-12 months after planting depending on variety. The stage of maturity is judged by the yellowing of lower leaves. 

Cassava is ready for harvesting 9-12 months after planting depending on variety, and the stage of maturity is judged by the yellowing of lower leaves

Late maturing cassava varieties are ready for harvesting from 12 months after planting while some early maturing varieties are ready for harvesting at 7 months. The exact time of harvesting is dependent upon varieties, rainfall, soil conditions and temperature regime.
  • Harvesting is commonly done manually by uprooting the whole plant or piece-meal harvesting using a fork jembe/ hoe.
  • Cassava can also be harvested mechanically, and the roots picked by hand. Harvesting is easier during the wet season and when cassava is planted on ridges and in loose or sandy soils. 
  • Too early harvesting results in lower root yield and starch content while delayed harvesting leads to development of woody, fibrous roots and reduction in starch content.
Cassava deteriorates quickly after harvest, and storage methods for fresh produce have not been very effective. Ideally, cassava should be stored in the dry form, which involves peeling, chipping and drying.
After drying, cassava chips can either be stored in that form or milled into flour. Cassava can also be peeled, grated and processed into fermented product known as ‘’gari’’. Both flour and ‘’gari’’ have a shelf life of two years.
Post-harvest handling
Tubers intended for storage should be properly cured after harvest in order to reduce perishability.
Curing improves the potential market life by reducing water loss and lowering the incidence of decay during storage.
  • Tubers may be consumed fresh, dried or cooked. Dry tubers can be processed into flour which can be used as pure flour or mixed with flour from cereals to make preparations such as bread, chapatis, cakes,cookies,etc.

Damaged and small roots should be processed first in order to minimize the growth of moulds.