Most parts of the country have a rare vegetable in the market: tapioca. Most markets throughout India do not know tapioca well. The vegetable has a distinctive taste, but people are not aware of it. Moreover, it cannot grow locally everywhere throughout the country. These factors make tapioca a preferred and consumed crop in only some states in India.
Why Cultivate Tapioca?
Tapioca needs a tropical climatic condition to grow. Most parts of India have such weather conditions. Therefore, farmers can cultivate tapioca commercially in large areas. However, theoretically, a common vegetable has a lower value and is “Normal” in India. This is how people view tapioca. They consider it a normal vegetable, just like potatoes and okra.
Nonetheless, people consume tapioca widely in areas where farmers cultivate it. A large amount also goes around to larger cities and towns where it sells easily considering the huge population.
How to Cultivate Tapioca
Let us take a look at how to start cultivating tapioca in your farm in a way that maximises your yield and profits:
Tropical climatic conditions are best for tapioca growth. The root growth and yield are better when the temperature is warm and the rainfall is well-distributed. Most varieties do not suit cooler and drier weathers as they produce smaller roots and the yield is not commercially viable. Tapioca needs 6-8 hours of direct sunlight with shorter days and longer nights. Some parts of India in the north are suitable for seasonal tapioca cultivation. However, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are states where farmers can cultivate tapioca throughout the year.
Ideal Soil for Cultivation
Soil with low fertility level and good drainage suits tapioca. Water logging is not good for tapioca and the roots run deep. Tapioca roots turn hard and fibrous in heavy soil. Therefore, red laterite soil or sandy loam soil is best for tapioca cultivation.
Farmers need to loosen and till the land thoroughly. They also need to apply manure and compost. 20 tonnes of cow manure per hectare of land is recommended. Farmers make trenches with rows to remove water. They may also need drip irrigation for irrigation. You can prepare the soil exactly this way with the help of a tiller or a cultivator mounted on your Mahindra 275 DI XP PLUS.
Farmers propagate tapioca from cuttings and plant them directly in the fields. They may need to treat the cuttings with fungicide. They also need to irrigate the fields after planting.
Tapioca are warm season crops. June onwards is the best time to cultivate tapioca in most states. Farmers plant the cuttings in mid-June to late June. Depending on the variety, they can cultivate the crops once a year. Some varieties can grow in April and May in some areas. However, it’s important to make sure that the climatic conditions during this period are good for the variety. Not all varieties can grow during April and May.
Farmers need to loosen and till the land thoroughly. They also need to apply manure and compost. 20 tonnes of cow manure per hectare of land is recommended. Farmers make trenches with rows to remove water. They may also need drip irrigation for irrigation.
Farmers plant the cuttings at a distance of 90 centimeters with row to row distance of 30 centimeters. The cuttings should be 1.5 inches deep in well-fertilized soil.
Pesticides help monumentally in controlling mealybugs, scales, and mites. These are the most common pests in tapioca.
Tapioca cultivation usually requires weeding twice but sometimes it may need 3-4 weeding schedules depending on the weeds in the farm and the growth of the tapioca leaves. Once the tapioca leaves are big, they prevent weeds from growing, and weeding is often not necessary. Weeding also helps loosen the soil, enabling the tapioca roots to grow better.
Farmers harvest tapioca once the roots reach 30-40 centimeters or depending on market preferences. They should harvest preferably in the mornings to retain maximum starch content and freshness. In addition, they should wash the produce thoroughly and trim the side roots. They should remove the leaves and pack the roots in gunny bags before shipping. They should ship the roots to market immediately. The tapioca can stay fresh for up to 2 days once harvested. Delay in harvesting makes the roots hard and fibrous. A Mahindra 585 DI XP PLUS with a harvester mounted on it can help you along greatly with your harvesting.
After harvesting, farmers usually transport the tapioca fresh to the market. Traders may process the produce for future sales during the off-season. They can process the produce into starch, flour, sago, chips, or ethanol.
The variety and season of the tapioca plants affect the yield. Tropical tapioca cultivated during April and May often have a much lower yield than those cultivated during June and July. Tapioca cultivation can expect an average of 38 tonnes per hectare with the higher end ranging to 50 tonnes per hectare.