Do you know how to start plantain farming in Nigeria? Plantain is one of the commonly grown food in the tropical region of West Africa and Nigeria. It is a great delicacy and is prepared in different forms by different tribes and some of the produce from plantain has become good for exportation such as the plantain flour (this is replacing wheat flour little by little).
One beautiful thing about plantain is that it just needs to be planted once and the harvest will keep coming every season. This is a very lucrative aspect of the agricultural business. Many think having a plantain plantation is all about just digging holes and putting the crop in just like the days of old.
This will in turn make u lose a huge part of your investment. To engage in a very lucrative plantain business, one has to be well trained or can get experts to run the business for him/her. There are many things to consider when venturing into this business such as the acquisition of land, land preparation, installation of drip irrigation, farm management etc.
Before venturing into this, you have to make a proper feasibility study. This also depends on your level of investment; an expert can help you run it if you do not understand the concept of a feasibility note or a business plan.
Ask around on the street, do not be solely dependent on what is seen online. Do your own research. Let us now see the different requirements needed to start up a profitable plantain business.
Acquisition of land
By research, plantain grows better where there is enough water. To acquire land, it’s best you get land in a rural area in the rainforest part of the country or swampy zones. These areas take in more rainfall than other parts, i.e., their soil absorb and sustain a lot of water which is highly needed by plantain to survive and yield good fruits which in turn will boost the profit.
It is advisable not to rent land for this business. Places that are best for such business are Edo, Rivers, Delta, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo State, Lagos, majorly all of the states in the southern part of Nigeria.
If you want to do this in a state with less rainfall, then you have to a do proper irrigation system preferably the drip irrigation system. it is best planted in loamy soil has it has enough organic materials in them and a suitable moisture content
If this is a new piece of land, you would likely have to start by uprooting all trees and stumps found in the land, you can plough the field or land and put in a lot of manure. Plantain needs a lot of that for good growth but a lot of manure might not really be necessary for virgin land.
Prepare your planting beds (this is not compulsory). Be reminded to do a soil and water test.
Installation of drip irrigation
This is also called trickle irrigation and it is said to be the best form of irrigation for farming plantain and majorly all crops. With this form of irrigation, the farm can get water for the full year. This will increase profit by at least 50%.
Many farmers wait for the rainy season to start before they plant and that gives their plants like 5-6 months of water, imagine a full year of non-stop water in the farmland, it will likely lead to even a 100% increase in profit if proper fertigation is practised. Fertigation is the process of passing nutrients in form of soluble fertilizers to plant through the drip irrigation system.
Planting your crops
Many farmers just go around collecting plantain suckers that have been uprooted or some they sell on the road. These suckers and seedlings are in most cases highly infected and introducing them to your farmland will lead to a spread of disease which will contaminate the soil and thereby affect all crops on that farmland. It is better to get a Clean Tissue Cultured Sucker.
These suckers are grown by scientists or researchers or people who are already in the agricultural field of business, they are grown in laboratories or in greenhouses. They are void of every disease, using this will give you a high return on investment as you wouldn’t have to spend much on treatment of the soil and crops and they do not attract pests so there will be no need for constant pest control measures.
There are three major varieties of plantain suckers; ware suckers, maidenhead suckers and sword suckers. The water suckers are not advisable to be used unless you are farming for personal consumption as they produce weak plant and yields little or no profit at all. The best to use is either maidenhead suckers or sword suckers.
Your suckers should be 4-5 feet long and there should be a distance of about 8-10 feet before another sucker is planted. As stated earlier, plantain needs a lot of manure and many get it wrong here, they start to plant without fertilizing the soil.
After digging up the hole when planting, instead of covering up with the same soil, use your manure to fill up the holes for a high yield in return. You can make use of organic manure such as chicken manure, cow manure etc. That’s if you can’t afford the chemical form of manure. Do not forget to weed constantly as the unwanted plants tend to drag with the plants for soil nutrients
Obey all rules pertaining to agronomical practices, make sure to manage the farm properly or hire an expert. Harvesting should take place from the 8-11th month of farming. They are best harvested when they are unripe.
This should have started long before the harvesting period. This is done by going around and also using the web. Plantain prices vary in different parts of the nation, at different times of the year and still varies again due to the size of the plantain. Selling directly will be more profitable as middlemen charge so high.
Below are some strategies by which you can make more money from your business if properly carried out;
Do not fall victim to those who are against farm irrigation. Use your irrigation system and as we said earlier, use the drip system as it is the best for this type of farming. Do not be solely dependent on rainfall, your plantain needs steady water all year.
Buy your fertilizers from credible companies as there are a lot of fake products outside and practice fertigation. Use a good pesticide for your pest control examples of such is fungicides, this will make your farm pest and disease-free.
You can also earn by selling your plantain in processed form such as Plantain flour, Plantain chips, Plantain porridge etc.