Have you ever thought of starting an agro-business that requires less stress, monitoring, and maintenance with high returns? Then you need to consider plantain farming.
Growing plantain on a large scale is a money-spinning venture, consumption of plantain and its product is in high demand. It can be sold in bunches or processed into chips flour and marketed locally and internationally. Plantain is a starchy green fruit that looks like bananas, but they are larger and green in color. It is not as sweet as a banana. It derives its special flavor and sweetness after ripening. It is an herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Musaceae. Green fruits are cooked, roasted, or boiled as food in most West African and Asian countries. It is a rich vitamin A, C, B-6, fiber, magnesium, and potassium source. There are different varieties of plantain this includes:
French type, False type, Horn type, and False horn type
Cultivation of Plantain
The choice of land has a great impact on the productivity of plantain. It grows well in well-drained loamy soil with high moisture content and rich organic matter. Plantain is grown in tropical regions with an average temperature of 26-30˚C. It requires a water supply for growth and development.
Suckers are the vegetative part of plantain, and they act as the seeds; healthy suckers should be planted for maximum yield. There are three kinds of suckers
- Water plantain sucker
- Maiden head sucker
- Sword sucker
The best type of sucker is sword plantain sucker
The land is cleared either by using a dagger or a tractor to remove tree stumps and unwanted items from the farm. After clearing, organic manure like animal dung is applied to improve the fertility of the soil before planting.
Spacing of Suckers
The suckers must be planted during the wet seasons (rainy seasons) when the soil is moist to boost its growth. The planting distance is 2mm by 3mm; planting suckers is a very tedious process and requires proper handling to prevent damage to the sucker. Labor is employed, especially when grown on a larger scale. One hectare of land carries about 1667 stands, and it should be planted in rows on flatbeds to provide access to sunlight. Avoid overcrowding suckers to reduce competition.
The presence of weed brings about competition for nutrients, sunlight, and space. Wees can be controlled by weeding using a hoe or using herbicides.
In plantain farming, organic and inorganic fertilizer are applied to release nutrients into the soil. Inorganic fertilizer like NPK (Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus) is used, while organic fertilizers
like animal dung, dead leaves, mulch, and ash from firewood are used to improve soil texture, moisture retention, erosion, and soil porosity.
Plantain takes about 8-10 months from planting to maturity and harvesting. The mature fruits are large and green with yellow ends. Harvesting is done in batches because they do not mature all at once. There is a need to remove some suckers from the mother stand at maturity. This is advantageous to the farmers because they do not need to buy new suckers in the next planting session.
Tools Used in Plantain Plantation
Tractor, plow, spade, hoe, machete
Marketing of Plantain
Plantain can be sold directly off the farm to consumers locally. In Nigeria, a bunch goes for about N750-2000, depending on the size of the fingers. In one hectare of land, an average of 1665 stands is gotten, which amounts to 1,665,000million naira, assuming he sells a bunch at N1000. Suckers can be sold between N100-150 to other farmers, making about N166,500. Plantain is a perennial crop that fruits all year round. It can also be processed and exported internationally.
Whats the Market Value of Plantain?
The global plantain market rose to 31 billion dollars in 2019. The price per tonne in Nigeria in 2021 was $764000.
Cost of Startup
Starting up a plantain plantation in Nigeria for one hectare of land costs about 2.376million naira, and for one acre, the cost is 1.6 million nairas. This includes labor, sucker, and fertilizers.
Plantain plantation is an enriching venture with low input and high returns. It requires low maintenance and management, plantain is a staple food, and it is highly consumed locally and internationally. Profits can be made by selling suckers, raw fruits, and even processed products. It is worth giving a shot.