Plantain farming is undoubtedly one of the most profitable agri-business ventures. Most young entrepreneurs lack the knowledge required to set up a plantain plantation, missing out on the profitability of this business.
I recently had a chat with an old time friend. He has a plantain plantation farm which has been the main source of his livelihood. Apparently you could buy plantain sucker at just #150 per sucker. An interesting fact about plantain farming is that it is harvested in batches.
After the first batch of harvest your plantain plant would keep producing more fruits till the harvest season is over. So you do the planting once and the rest is harvest every season.
Plantain is one of the most common staple foods mostly grown in the tropical regions of Nigeria and West Africa.
In Nigeria, plantain 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 flour is also exported from Nigeria to other countries of the world.
To Start a Plantain Farming (plantain plantation) business:
GET A LAND
The first step in starting a plantain farm is acquiring a farmland. To be successful in this business any farmland you select 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 the areas with the highest number of plantain plantation include: Edo, Delta, Cross river, Ekiti, Ogun, and other states in the tropics.
If the land you intend to use for your plantain farm is not rich enough with the right kind of soil, you have 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 your 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.
PREPARE THE LAND/SOIL
After acquiring a land for the plantation you will need to carry out land preparation activities on the land. These activities include clearing the land of bushes, trees, stones, stumps, etc. Land preparation also involves tilling the land and application of manure to improve land fertility (for less fertile land).
You may choose to use manual labor or use machines to prepare the land for planting (depending on the scale of business you intend to operate).
BUY HEALTHY PLANTAIN SUCKERS
Plantain suckers are used to grow new plantain plants. They are outgrowth (shoot) which develop from the bud at the base or corm of the mother plantain plant. Plantain suckers mostly contain short and narrow leafs on them.
When looking for plantain sucker for your new plantain plantation, ensure you approach reputable farmers that can supply you with healthy suckers, free of disease and pest damage.
There are three major varieties of plantain suckers: water suckers, maidenhead and sword sucker. The water suckers are not so ideal to use for plantain farming business. They produce weak plant with low yield of plantain fruits.
To get the best out of your plantation, buy maidenhead or sword suckers. This varieties produce strong plants that are highly resistant to pest attack, have a high level of productivity, and produce healthy fruits.
Plantain suckers sell for as low as #80 in some places and as high as #150 in others, depending on your location. Most local farmers would give an attractive discount to any buyer buying in bulk. Once you buy a healthy variety of suckers it would serve you for many years to come. All you need to do is to get suckers from your own plantation.
Depending on the size of your farm, you might have to hire laborers to carry out farming activities such as: land preparation, planting of plantain suckers, weeding and harvesting. All these could also be done mechanically. If you have a big budget and can afford to set up a large-scale plantation then mechanized farming would be more helpful to you.
PLANT THE SUCKERS
Your plantain suckers should be 4-5 feet long. While planting the suckers, keep a distance of about 8-10 feet before planting the next sucker. Ensure that the soil is moderately wet. Plantain plant does not grow well in waterlogged areas.
WEEDING AND FERTILIZER APPLICATION
Weed and other unwanted plant compete for the nutrient of the soil with the plantain plant, therefore constant weeding is required. You could employ manual labor to help with the weeding or you could make use of chemicals (depends on how large your farm is).
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.
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.
The demand for plantain is on the increase, there is always a market for the product. You could supply to companies that process plantain into flour, sell in the local market, and even export the farm produce. The market for plantain in West Africa is very large and increasing.
Setting up your own plantain processing plant is another sure-fire way of maximizing profit in the plantain farming business. Every business needs a business plan. So if you missed our Writing a Business Plan Course, you can go through it now and get your plan ready.
Go ahead and set up your plantain plantation. There is money waiting to be made in the plantain farming business. Share this post with your friends, and comment to share to your thoughts.