Plantain is one of the common staple foods mostly grown in the tropical regions of Nigeria and West Africa.It is a very profitable business to venture into as it can be utilized in varieties of ways. This article will serve as a guide on how to start the business in Nigeria.
- 1 Plantain Farming in Nigeria
- 2 How to Start Plantain Farming
- 3 Why you should Start Plantain Farming
- 4 Challenges in Plantain Farming
- 5 Conclusion
Plantain Farming in Nigeria
Plantain farming is a very lucrative agribusiness venture because you can cultivate plantain here in Nigeria sell it directly to both local and international consumers or process it to other forms. You can boil, fry, roast or even grind plantain into flour or any other form that is marketable and sell the processed form at a higher price to make more profit.
An interesting fact about plantain farming is that it is harvested in batches. After the first batch of harvest, your plantain plant would keep producing more fruits till the harvest season is over. So you do the planting once and harvest every season.
How to Start Plantain Farming
Secure a Land
The first step in starting a plantain farm is acquiring a farmland. To be successful in this business any farmland you select should have the right type of soil and located in an area with favorable weather condition for the growth of plantain. Plantain plants do best in loamy soil, the soil should contain enough organic matter with moderate moisture content. In Nigeria the areas with the highest number of plantain plantation include: Edo, Delta, Cross river, Ekiti, Ogun, and other states in the tropics.
If the land you intend to use for your plantain farm is not rich enough with the right kind of soil, you have an option to develop the land before use. Applying organic manure like chicken manure, cow manure, etc. which would improve the fertility of the soil. While selecting a land to set up your plantain plantation watch out for a land with thick vegetation. Thick vegetation is an indication that a land contains the right soil that is rich enough for the growth of plantain.
Prepare the Land
After acquiring a land for the plantation you will need to carry out land preparation activities on the land. These activities include clearing the land of bushes, trees, stones, stumps, etc. Land preparation also involves tilling the land and application of manure to improve land fertility (for less fertile land).
You may choose to use manual labor or use machines to prepare the land for planting (depending on the scale of business you intend to operate).
Buy Healthy Plantain Suckers
Plantain suckers are used to grow new plantain plants. They are outgrowth (shoot) which develop from the bud at the base or corm of the mother plantain plant. Plantain suckers mostly contain short and narrow leafs on them. When looking for plantain sucker for your new plantain plantation, ensure you approach reputable farmers that can supply you with healthy suckers, free of disease and pest damage.
There are three major varieties of plantain suckers: water suckers, maidenhead and sword sucker. The water suckers are not so ideal to use for plantain farming business. They produce weak plant with low yield of plantain fruits. To get the best out of your plantation, buy maidenhead or sword suckers. This varieties produce strong plants that are highly resistant to pest attack, have a high level of productivity, and produce healthy fruits.
Depending on the size of your farm, you might have to hire laborers to carry out farming activities such as: land preparation, planting of plantain suckers, weeding and harvesting. All these could also be done mechanically. If you have a big budget and can afford to set up a large-scale plantation then mechanized farming would be more helpful to you.
Plant the Suckers
Your plantain suckers should be 4-5 feet long. While planting the suckers, keep a distance of about 8-10 feet before planting the next sucker. Ensure that the soil is moderately wet. Plantain plant does not grow well in waterlogged areas.
Weed and Apply Fertilizers
Weed and other unwanted plant compete for the nutrient of the soil with the plantain plant, therefore constant weeding is required. You can employ manual labor to help with the weeding or you can make use of chemicals
Application of fertilizer depends on if you started the plantation on a fertile soil. However, if you must apply fertilizer on your farm make sure it has the right proportion of potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. You could also till the dead plantain leaves to the ground to improve soil fertility.
The plantain fruits would be ready for harvest after about 8-10 months. Once the harvest season begins the plant will continue to produce more fruits till the season is over. Harvesting is done as soon as the plantain starts to ripen.
The demand for plantain is on the increase, there is always a market for the product. You can supply companies that process plantain into flour, sell in the local market, and even export the farm produce. The market for plantain in West Africa is very large and increasing.
Why you should Start Plantain Farming
- It is very easy to plant and manage a plantain farm ( plantation )
- The demand for it is high because of its consumption rate and the reasons behind the increase in consumption. Some people eat plantain because of health challenges mostly diabetic patients. This is because plantain contains fibre which is very good for the body.
- Plantain provide a wide variety of food types for consumption such as flour for making swallow, pottage, chips, roasting and boiling to be used with stew or palm oil.
- It provides opportunity for industries to emerge for flour production.
Challenges in Plantain Farming
The major problems faced by plantain farmers are transportation ( due to farm proximity) and storage ( they are perishable crops). They become rotten when over ripe thereby making storage to be difficult except they are processed into flours. Also there is the challenge of inadequate capital especially if one is to process to flour. Plantain farming business is expensive but has long-term benefits, in which case the gains supersedes the expenses.
As a working class or a business person who is always busy, don’t let the lack of time for set up and management of a plantain farm prevent you from enjoying the benefits of investing in a plantain farm that will continue to give you profits all your life without you stressing yourself.
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