Plantain farming is a lucrative farming venture that is unknown by many agro-investor. It is not only lucrative; the cultivation and maintenance process is also easy.
The plant regenerates and multiplies rapidly on its own and thus makes the yield increase more and more over time.
Additionally, it is easy to set up and requires just a small amount of capital. It thrives well in roughly every Nigerian soil and can grow fruits round the year.
The major cost of starting the business is the money to secure the land and purchase the suckers to start with. Thus, if you have any vacant land with loamy soil, you can turn it into profitable plantation farming.
Plantain is a popular staple food in tropical climates where the temperature is warm with bright sunshine and suitable moisture for optimal growth. It is rated as the tenth most significant staple food that is eaten by people of all races globally.
Plantain, when it is unripe, has a flavour related to that of potato. The texture as well looks like. It can be cooked by steaming, boiling, frying, smoking, cutting into bits, and cooked with vegetables.
Preparation For Plantain Farming
To start plantain farming, you will need the following, which is explained below.
Land in a Suitable Climate
Plantain grows well in an environment that is neither too hot nor too cold. They thrive very well in a land that is natural manure or on which thick compost is added.
The best soil for growing plantain is loamy soil because of the presence of a mixture of organic and inorganic materials. Organic materials like decomposed plants and insects supply the soil with the required air, nutrients, and water-retention capacity. These in addition to mineral particles, keep the soil loose and fertile.
It is better to plant plantain in groups to be able to get a good harvest as this will as well protect them from the harsh effects of the sun.
After you have secured a suitable land, clear the ground and get the it ready for cultivation. Plantain plants thrive better when they are grown in bunches or groups. This ensures they get adequate protection each from the adverse effects of the sun. This is easily achieved by planting them in a bunch.
You can alternatively plant them under plants with shade to protect them. While clearing the bush, do not clear all the plants, leave some trees to provide the shade, and provide the necessary environment.
Plantain is not a tree but a form of the herb. Thus, the planting method differs from that of other plants. Plantain is planted through the sucker. Suckers are baby plantain plants that grow into new plantain plants.
It is therefore, highly essential for you to select healthy suckers. How healthy your suckers are will determine the success of your plantation farming greatly. It is better to use suckers from matured and harvested plants.
Every mature plantain tree contains a corm at the base. You need to cut as much as possible into the corm when you want to transplant a baby sucker.
There is a corm at the bottom of each mature plantain tree. While transplanting a sucker, it is essential to cut downwards and get as many corms and roots as possible. There should be a space of roughly five meters of in-between planted suckers.
Weed Control for Plantain Farming
It is significant to keep the plantain plantation out of weed. You can either decide to use the traditional method by employing labourers. Alternatively, you can make use of herbicides.
As the plant grows, it is essential to protect it from the strong effects of the winds. It is as well essential to keep the environment suitably moist.
Enriching the Soil
You can make use of fertilizer occasionally but allowing the dead plantain stem and leaves to decay in the farm is suitable for regenerating the soil lost nutrients.
The type of fertiliser suitable for plantain is NPK fertilizer. This means a fertilizer that contains nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. Applying fertilizer on the plants once every month will boost the growth.
Maintenance Plantain Farm
Maintenance of plantain plantation is not difficult. The only thing that is required is to take off dead leaves and dead plants close to the plantain. Also, you need to take off suckers that are growing close to the plantain plant. The only ones that you need to leave with the growing plantain tree are suckers that are made up of spear-shaped leaves.
Source of Capital for Plaintain Farmers
- Personal savings: this is when a farmer is investing from the money he or she had saved up together. In most cases, the fund usually is not sufficient, and they will have to source for a loan.
- Assitance or loan for family and friends: is likely the second option most startup farmers jump into. This is because this kind the loan usually attracts little or no interest. After all, those you got the fund from have a good or mutual relationship with you.
- Loan from the bank: be it from a commercial or a microfinance bank, this type of loan a attract a high-interest rate. For the bank to grant a loan in most case, they require collateral security which they will hold back on it if the person fails to pay back as at when due.
- Grants: a grant is a non-repayable fund. In some case, some farmers may be lucky by securing loans that they won’t have to payback from the government, philanthropist or institutions that are trying to promote their activities.
- Fund from corporative society: most farmers are members of one corporative or the other. One of the advantages of a cooperative society is to assist members who are in need. Unlike like a grant, a loan from a cooperative is repayable, but in most cases with little or no interest attached to it.
- Fund from specialized institutions: most especially in the third-world countries, the government and some interest-related institutions had to make funds available to help some groups or types of farmers. This kind of fund can come in the form of a grant or as a loan with zero or one-percent interest rate. The most amazing thing about this fund is that no collateral is required. The government make use of these to boost some particular sector of the economy.
Major Challenges With Plantain Farming
Transportation is one of the biggest problems with plantain farming in Nigeria. Poor means of transportation has created lots of hindrance among plantain farmers, especially those that farm for commercial purpose.
The high cost of transporting farm products, bad roads, and diversion have affected the distribution of plantain to several markets where there is high demand.
The expenses and difficulties plantain farmers go through will be added to the cost of plantain, for them to be able to make some profit.
It has added a lot to the overall cost of plantain, thereby making plantain more expensive.
Creating good and alternative means of transportation is mostly the duty of the government.
To fix this problem, the government will have to put more effort into making sure there is a good and reliable transportation means, especially in the agricultural part of the country.
Getting experience labourers that are ready to work in a plantain plantation is always a big problem in most cases. Especially due to the fact that plantain is always planted in the begining of raining season, which is also the same time most other farmers are looking for labourers for their farm.
The reason for this is the competition due to the many available jobs on several farms.
Over the years, plantain storage has been a big issue mostly to those living in the third-world countries.
Plantain has a short shelf life because it is easily get affected by several environmental factors, such as temperature, humidity and composition of the air.
Most country farmers normally contend with a significant amount of wastage because of the unavailability of effective storage systems.
If one intends to venture into plantain farming, it is highly advisable to either get a reliable storage facility or device an efficient distribution method to get the product to end-users as soon as possible.
Most plantain farmers and other crop farmers are still backwards in Nigeria. They still make use of the old farming methods used by our forefather, which didn’t yield much output.
Most of these old farming practises has been existing for over twenty years.
It this era of technology growth, to make the most out of plantain farming, as a plantain farmer you have to embrace technology, engage in research, and practice the trending plantain farming methods to be able to compete with the rest of the world.
We all know the land as an asset that only appreciates in value. It is a good one, but the consequence is that it made land very expensive to acquire.
Most extensive farmers we see today, farms on the land they inherited. It is very difficult for an intending plantain farmer to go and purchase land for a plantain plantation.
And due to the fact a plantation requires a large expanse of land, most farmers end up leasing the land they make use of, thereby paying heavily for it and still not owning the land.
This single act is eating into farmers gain, and it has chased lots of farmers away for the plantain farming business.
Finance / Capital
No matter the kind of business one wants to venture into, finance still remains the most important factor.
Finance is what will determine how big the farm will be. If a farmer intends to have a massive farm, that will go with massive finance.
The difference between a big plantain farm and a small plantain farm is the capital invested in it.
We have already listed and explain the different sources of finance farmers rely on in other the startup a plantain farming business or expand their plantain farm.
One thing is to harvest your products, and another is to find the right market for it. For a plantain farmer to be successful, he should be able to find the best market for it.
Having in mind that plantain is a perishable farm product, marketing the right quantity of product after harvesting is always a difficult task.
Any waste of the farm product will result in a huge loss, so it is important that buyers are readily available before the harvesting.
Transportation also has a vital role to play here. It is also very important that there is a ready means of transporting the products to potential buyers.
This all depends on the kind of company you find yourself. In the case of Nigeria, its government policy may not be so accommodating to some levels.
Despite the high rate of production, the government still lack encouraging export policy on plantain. This has made the product readily available mainly in the local markets. The effect of this is that discourages large scale investors.
Another is the lack of agricultural grants and extension services which would have encouraged more farmers and entrepreneurs to engage in this agricultural business.
In the part research, the government have not done enough in sponsoring research programs that will boost plantain production in the country.
Pest and Diseases
In the aspect of pest and disease if plantain, banana weevils (Cosmopolites sordidus) and black leaf streak are the common pest and disease that are affecting plantain production in this part of the world.
If it can be controlled, it will increase the productivity on the plantain plantation, thereby yielding more profit and fewer worries.
Plaintain Producing States In Nigeria
Nigeria is among the largest plantain producing countries in the continent of African, which produces about 2.73 million tonnes every year.
The plantain and banana are widely produced in the South region and Central regions of Nigeria.
The major producing states are in no order listed below;
- Oyo state
- Edo state
- Ondo state
- Bayelsa state
- Delta state
- Akwa Ibom state
- Rivers state
- Ogun State
- Cross River state
- Ebonyi state
- Abia state
- Ekiti state
- Imo state
- Plateau state
- Osun state
- Kogi state
- Anambra state
- Enugu state.
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