Individuals, companies and Governments are investing in Banana Farming, not just for food security but also for it’s economic importance. Today, we will be teaching you about how to start a profitable commercial farming business.
What is commercial banana farming?
Commercial Banana farming is the cultivation of the banana crop for consumption, sale and other industrial uses. A banana plant is not a tree but a rather tall crop. The banana is an edible fruit with an elongated, curved shape.
The banana fruit is covered with a protective rind usually of green, yellow, red or brown colour when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters called bunches, hanging from the top of the plant.
Banana fruits vary in sizes and colors but they all possess the same characteristic curved, elongated shape with a soft, edible flesh. Bananas used for cooking are called plantains. Banana fruits are highly nutritious fruits embedded with nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and some elements like potassium, phosphorus etc.
Uses of banana.
A banana plant is a special plant as all parts of the plant are useful for one purpose or the other. Some of these uses are;
As feed for livestock: The peels of the banana fruits and the leaves of the crop are edible and can be used for feeding livestock.
They can be eaten as food: The banana fruit is an edible, yellow fruit when it is ripe. They are easily digestible and highly nutritious. They can also be processed into ice-cream and flour which can be consumed by people.
The peels are used in the production of alcohol and biogas.
They are sheaths and pseudostem provide fibres which can be used as binding ropes.
The starch recovered from the plant could used for its pharmaceutical or medicinal properties.
The peels are also used for making compost which add nutrients p the soil.
The leaves offer a variety of uses; as animal feeds, as wrapping material and even as thatching material.
Why commercial banana farming?
Banana farming does not require much capital to start.
The crop is a perennial crop with a long lifespan which means that it does not require frequent replacement.
Bananas have a huge demand from people and food processing industries. This is because people consume them and industry process bananas to produce ice-creams, milk shakes, cakes and even flour.
It generates high return on investment. Bananas constitute significant portion of the export revenues for many countries because of the high profit it generates. Its high return on investment makes it one lucrative and profitable business.
It has a large market for its products. Due to the fact that bananas are one of the most consumed cheapest fruits worldwide, it means that the demand for it and its products is high. This means that it has a large, ever-ready market.
They don’t have a specific growing season. This makes banana an ideal plant for massive cultivation and production as its fruits are available for harvesting all year round.
Different varieties of banana.
Cavendish bananas: These varieties of banana are the most common. They are easily found in most supermarkets. They have a characteristic yellow colour when ripe and are perfect for making smoothies.
Gros Michel bananas: This variety of banana has a similar size, taste and colour as the Cavendish variety. However, it is not as freely available as the other varieties. It is characterized by its unique sweet taste, creamier texture and strong smell.
Gold-finger bananas: This is a wind, disease resistant and cold tolerant variety of banana. This variety is formed as a result of the cross of the Cavendish and Ladyfinger varieties. It has an apple like sweet flavour.
Blue java bananas: They are also popularly known as the ice cream bananas. They are characterized by a silvery blue skin which turns pale yellow upon ripening.
Dwarf Jamaican bananas: This variety of bananas is smaller than the Cavendish variety. It however has a creamier taste with a raspberry flavour. The fruits turn sunset yellow when they are ripe.
Other varieties are: red bananas, Manzano, Barangan, Macho plantain, Bluggoe, Orinoco etc.
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How to plant banana trees.
Banana trees don’t grow form a seed but from a bulb or rhizome known as a sucker. The following are the steps on how to plant banana trees;
The parent banana plant should be selected. A high producing parent plant should be chosen.
The suckers at the base of the banana plant should be monitored and be allowed to grow to at least three feet. The suckers should also be allowed to grow their roots.
The suckers should be separated from the rhizomes of the parent plant using a sharp spade or cutlass. Care should be taken so as not to injure the parent plant or the sucker.
After the separation from the parent plant, the surface of the cut rhizome on the sucker should be allowed to dry for a day.
After which the surface of the rhizome of the sucker has been dried it is ready for transplanting.
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Pests and diseases of a typical banana farming.
Pests and diseases could affect the growth and productivity of banana plants. The pests that can disrupt the growth of banana plants are; aphids, nematodes, weevils, caterpillars, spider mites, fruit flies, scab moths, rodents, birds, fruit bats and monkeys.
The diseases that affect a banana plant productivity are; leaf speckle, leaf rust, crown rot, panama disease, panama wilt, bacterial wilt, fruit speckle, anthracnose, rhizome soft rot, leaf rust, yellow sigatoka etc.
To control or keep pest, diseases and weeds away, the use of pesticides, chemicals and herbicides should be used.
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