How To Start Plantain Farming In Nigeria: Step By Step Guide

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Plantain farming is one of the most profitable businesses in Nigeria. So many people have over looked this area of business without knowing that they are missing out on the money spinner. This business has the capacity to turn a farmer into a millionaire in less than a year depending on the start-up capital, the type of sucker and correct management practises.

The demand for plantain is far from being met as the crave for it is on the increase daily. Plantain is mostly found or are majorly grown in the Southern part of Nigeria; Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Edo, Delta, Ogun State etc.

Note that the processes used in planting plantain is the same used in banana farming.

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 reasons mostly diabetic patients. This is because plantain contains fibre which is very good for the body.

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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.

HOW MUCH IS NEEDED TO START A PLANTAIN FARM

This will depend on the amount of money you have at hand but you can start with #300,000 aside landed properties  you can conveniently start plantain farming in an acre of land. Plantain farming is capital-intensive. An acre of land will take 1000 suckers. You can buy a good sucker for #150-#250 depending on who is selling and the location.

LAND PREPARATION/SOIL TYPE

Clear your farm and get it ready for planting. The soil should be a well-drained loamy soil, rich in nutrients for optimum growth, plantain do well in alkaline soils.. You can prepare the land manually or mechanically.  The use of machines such as tractors should be encouraged if the land is very vast maybe in hectares. If you are using plots or acres manual labour can be used. Wet the soil sparingly for two days before planting, spray manure on the soil as well. Avoid waterlog areas.

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However, there are certain things to consider when establishing a new plantation; the spacing for fruit production should be different from sucker production. Spacing for sucker should be 3 feet you cut them after 4 months. While the spacing for fruit should be between 8 to 10 feet.

PLANTING

Source for good suckers the success of having a bountiful harvest depends majorly on the type of suckers used in plantain farming. I will recommend hybrid suckers, they are ready for harvest in a very short time and the yield outcome is something to desire. The importance of a good sucker cannot be over emphasized as the success of a plantain farming depends on that.

Plant immediately after field preparation. The hole should be 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. Put the sucker in the dug hole and cover the corm with the top soil that was removed when digging followed by the bottom soil place the side that was cut from the parent plant against the wall of the hole. Position the opposite side of the sucker corm towards the middle of the hole where the loosed soil is.

Water it 24hrs after planting, continue with the watering every 2 days until they are well established.

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If you are planting in a nursery, transplant to the field between 10-12weeks. The spacing should be 3m between the plantain rows and 2m within the row. Plant the suckers in a straight line to allow plants the maximum amount of sunlight for utilization. Cocoyam, groundnut, watermelon or pineapple can be inter-crop  along side plantain plant in a plantain farming.

IRRIGATION IN PLANTAIN FARMING

You don’t need to border about irrigation if you are in the middle of a rainy season except there is shortage of rain but if you are planting during dry season then you need water for irrigation. In that case you need to sink a borehole or dig a well. irrigation should continue until the plants are established probably in 5 months interval then you stop.

FERTILIZER APPLICATION

It is a must for you to apply manure to your plantation especially if you did used a bulldozer to clear your farm because the top soil was displaced during clearing. Apply fertilizer 1 feet to the right and 1 feet to the left away from the sucker.

Plantain plants are heavy eaters that is to say they consume manure a lot. Use dung (poultry, cow, goat etc.), household waste that can decompose easily, wood ash etc for your manuring. The manure will increase plantain growth, yield and will also cause them to be well established.

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Manure also helps in reducing infestation by borer insects (weevils) and nematodes. Organic manure maintains soil acidity, regulates soil temperature and moisture conservation. The application of manure should start one month after planting or after the first rain for already existing plantation.

PEST AND DISEASES IN PLANTAIN FARMING

Diseases in a plantain farm can only be prevented and not controlled this is because it is difficult or impossible to control them for now. The most commonest disease is the Bunchy Top Disease (virus disease). This is a disease that makes the plantain to be stunted and the leaves to be yellowish in colour.

The disease spreads within the environment (Village, LGA, Community etc.)  they invade and become difficult to eradicate once they attack the environment in question.

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The immediate thing to do when you noticed this is to destroy the already infested ones and replace them with good healthy ones. That is why it is advisable to plant hybrid suckers because they are already treated against diseases especially if you are planting for commercial purpose.

The diseases mostly attack the traditional suckers because they are susceptible to diseases apart from this their yield is mostly very small compared to the hybrid plant.

THE CORRECT SUCKER TO USE IN PLANTAIN FARMING

Tissue cultured suckers is very recommendable because they are resistant to diseases , grows fast, display uniform growth and possess high yield (bountiful harvest)

Also medium plantains are good for planting because their yield is good and their size matches with their fruit (a recommended breed against wind break).

Giants breeds produce heavy bunches but takes longer time to produce and can easily be destroyed by strong winds as well due to its size. In this case you can use sticks to support them from falling.

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Horn plantain’s yield is very low as such it is not advisable to plant them especially if it is for profit purpose.

WEEDING

The use of herbicide is encouraged if the plantain farming is large maybe in hectares but manual labour can be used for plots or hectares. The use of herbicide is quicker with good result and cheaper. Weeding should be done on time between 2-3 weeks after planting then after every 6-8 weeks but from 5 to 6 months the weeds decreases due to shading.

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TYPES OF HERBICIDE TO USE

Force up is good but care must be taken so that it doesn’t touch plantain leaves. Do not use gramazone it can turn a healthy greenish plantation to a yellowish one.

PREPARATION OF SUCKERS

Separate suckers from their parent plant with a matchet or spade. Peel the corm with the matchet, be careful not to damage or chop off the corm. Cut off the pseudo stem of the suckers few centimetre above the corm.  Allow them to dry but not under the sun before planting. Plant within two weeks of cutting for a better yield.

CHALLENGES IN PLANTAIN FARMING

The major problems faced by plantain farmers are transportation ( due to farm proximity), storage ( they are perishable crops) they become rotten when over riped 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.

WIND PREVENTION/HARVESTING

Plant cassia, guava, moringa trees for wind breaks. Harvesting should be done once the bunches are very greenish and big or they have started showing signs of ripening. For a hybrid plant this should be about 8 months from when the suckers were transplanted.

MARKETABILITY

Plantain demand is still far from being met as such there is a ready market for it. Sell them to market women, plantain chips companies, individuals, institutions and plantain flour company.

Better still you can process them into flour and sell for more profit if you have the capital. Profits depend on the time of harvest, the ruling price and the number of the product competitors in the market.

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