Plantain farming is one of the most profitable and sustainable farming business in the world. This is because plantainIt is not just sweet as food buy also has a huge profit margin for agro-entrepreneurs.
Plantain is one of the most common staple foods mostly grown in the tropical regions of Nigeria and West Africa. It is a special delicacy prepared by frying, boiling, steaming or made into plantain chips.
Recently, plantain has been processed into flour which is gradually substituting the use of wheat flour due to its superior nutritional value. Plantain also has huge export potential and can be processed to make plantain flour, serves as industrial raw materials for the creation of sanitary pads, fabrics and also for the food and beverage industry for making baby foods, biscuits, bread and cakes.
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.
Plantain farming is one of the simplest but also very rewarding ventures to start. 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 is because Some people eat plantain because of health reasons, mostly diabetic patients. This is because plantain contains fiber which is very good for the body. In starting a plantain plantation, there are some basic steps to follow, which are explained below:
- 1 Necessary Steps for a Successful Plantain Farming
- 2 Selection of land for the plantain farming
- 3 Preparation of land for the plantain farming
- 4 Get the plantain suckers
- 5 Planting the plantain suckers
- 6 Irrigation of your plantain farm
- 7 Weeding your plantain farm
- 8 Application of fertilizer
- 9 Control of pests and diseases:
- 10 Harvesting your plantain
- 11 Marketing of your Plantain farming produce:
- 12 3 Major Challenges of plantain farming.
Necessary Steps for a Successful Plantain Farming
Selection of land for the plantain farming
The first thing that should come to mind when starting plantain farming is the acquisition of land. To be successful in this business any farmland selected 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 where ofarms.ng is situated, the areas with the highest number of plantain plantation are: Edo, Delta, Cross river, Ekiti, Ogun, and other states in the tropics. If the land intended to use for the plantain farm is not rich enough with the right kind of soil, there is an option to develop the land before use. Applying organic manure like chicken manure, cow manure, etc. would improve the fertility of the soil. While selecting a land to set up the 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.
Preparation of land for the plantain farming
Clear the land get it ready for plantain farming. The soil should be a well-drained loamy soil, rich in nutrients for optimum growth, plantain do well in alkaline soils. The land can be prepared manually or mechanically. The use of machines such as tractors should be encouraged if the land is very large maybe in hectares. If it is in plots or acres, manual labor can be used. Wet the soil sparingly for two days before planting, spray manure on the soil as well.
Avoid waterlog areas. But, it should be noted that 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 and be cut after 4 months. While the spacing for fruit should be 8-10 feet.
Get the plantain suckers
Plantain Suckers are shoots which develop from the bud of the mother plantain plant. They should have small, spear-shaped leaves and are about four feet high. Research should be made from reputable farmers before getting the suckers. The farm should be loaded with healthy plantain suckers that are free of diseases.
The suckers should be planted two to five meters away from each other. It should be noted that plantain suckers are of some major types, they are:
Water suckers: They are not so ideal to use for plantain farming business. They produce weak plant with low yield of plantain fruits.
Peeper sucker: It is a small sucker emerging from the soil.
Maiden sucker: It is a large sucker with foliage leaves. It is a good planting material as it grows strong, produces great yields and is resistant against pests and diseases.
Sword sucker: It is a large sucker with lanceolate. It is the best conventional planting material. It grows strong and produces great yields and is resistant against pests and diseases.
Planting the plantain suckers
Planting should commence immediately after field preparation. The hole should be 30cm x 30cm. Put the sucker in the dug hole and cover the suckers 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.
Irrigation of your plantain farm
If the plantain is being planted during the dry season, or a period where there is shortage of rain, then, there will be a need water for irrigation. In this situation, sink a borehole or dig a well. Irrigation should continue until the plants are established probably in 5 months interval then you stop. But, there is no need to bother about it, if it is being planted in the middle of a rainy season.
Weeding your plantain farm
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. The use of herbicide is encouraged if the plantain farming is large maybe in hectares but manual labor can be used for plots or hectares. The use of herbicide is quicker with good result and also cheaper.
Application of fertilizer
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.
Control of pests and diseases:
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 color.
The disease spreads within the environment (Village, LGA, Community etc.) they invade and become difficult to eradicate once they attack the environment. The disease spreads within the environment (Village, LGA, Community etc.) they invade and become difficult to eradicate once they attack the environment.
Harvesting your plantain
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.
Marketing of your Plantain farming produce:
There is still a shortage of supply for the high demand of plantain. After harvest, it can be sold to households, plantain chips industries or plantain flour makers. If you have the capital, you can process it into plantain flour and sell for more profit. Additionally, do not rule out the possibility of trading in the international market.
3 Major Challenges of plantain farming.
The major problems faced by plantain farmers are:
Transportation: This is because of farm proximity.
Storage: They are perishable crops. They become rotten when overripe thereby, making storage to be difficult except they are processed into flours.
Inadequate Capital: This is also another problem that occurs, especially, if one is to process the plantain to flour. Plantain farming business is expensive but has long-term benefits, in which case the gains supersedes the expenses.
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