Plantain farming is simply the cultivation of plantain. Plantain farming involves the process of planting the plantain suckers till the stage of harvesting and marketing of the plantain produce.
Plantain farming is one of the most profitable farming ventures in Nigeria because of the huge demand of plantains in Nigeria. Most Nigerians if not all consume plantains regularly.
Plantains are starchy bananas that are widely consumed in a lot of countries. Plantains grow the tropical belt of the world. It does not grow in temperate and dry areas. Plantain as a crop also loves humidity. This is why it does well in wet humid regions of the world.
Nigeria’s Business Day Newspaper noted that there was about 99,000 tons demand-supply gap of plantains in Nigeria. About 350 million people in West and Central Africa heavily consume plantains as food.
In Nigeria, plantains are mainly grown in southern states of Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Lagos and Ebonyi. Plantains do well in the southern belt of Nigeria because of the tropical and humid nature of the region.
Plantain can be grown in the northern part of Nigeria if irrigation is used.
Steps to Take to Start Plantain Farming in Nigeria
The following are the steps to take to grow plantain in Nigeria:
- Site Selection
- Climatic Conditions
- Soil Suitable for Plantain Farming
- Soil Preparation
- Selection of Cultivar to Plant
- Sucker Preparation and Management
- Transplanting of Plantain Suckers to Field
- Weed Control
- Training and Pruning of Plantain
- Fertilizer and Manure Management
- Management of Pests and Diseases
- Processing of Plantain
1) Site Selection
The location or site to use for your plantain plantation must be easily accessible. There should be a good road connection so that the produce of the farm can be easily evacuated to the market.
The farmland site should be located in a tropical humid belt as this will positively favour the growth of the plantain crop. The soil should preferably by loamy and fertile. Clay and sandy soils are not favourable for the growing of plantain.
2) Climatic Conditions Suitable for Plantain Farming
Plantain prefers tropic and humid climatic conditions. To grow plantain, you need to site your farm in a place that has a tropical climatic condition.
Lowland areas are perfect for the growing of plantains. However, you should not cultivate plantain in flooded areas.
Plantain prefers areas with an annual rainfall level of 2,000mm. The rainfall should be well distributed all through the year.
Plantain can also tolerate high level of humidity.
3) Soil Suitable for Plantain Farming
Plantain crop prefers black loamy soil or any soil rich in organic matter. The soil should be well draining and relatively loose. Sandy and clay soils are not good for the cultivation of plantain.
The soil pH should be 4.0 – 7.5. If your soil is very acidic, you can amend with limestone or dolomite.
4) Soil Preparation
If the farmland to be used is heavily forested, the trees and stumps should be removed. Bulldozers can be used to remove the trees and stumps, however, care should be exercised so that the top soil is not removed.
After the removal of the trees and stumps, the soil should be ploughed and harrowed. Several rounds of plough may be done for the soil to be loose. Ridging can also be done to create beds. For virgin soils, ploughing and harrowing may not be done.
For soil with low organic matter, farmyard manure, animal manure and compost can be added to the soil. These should be mixed to the soil through ploughing.
The soil should be ploughed several times till the soil forms a fine tilth. Tractors with harrowing implement may be used to harrow the farmland.
High phosphate fertilizer like Single Super Phosphate fertilizer or Diammonium Phosphate Fertilizer should be applied to every pit meant for planting the sucker. Depending on how fertile the soil is, up to 75 - 175 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer may be applied per planting hole.
The recommended spacing is 3 m between the plantain rows and 2 m within the row (in other words. 3 m x 2 m). An alternative is 2.5 m x 2.5 m. If spaced 3 m x 2 m, 1 hectare should contain 1667 plants, but with a spacing of 2.5 m x 2.5 m, it should contain 1600 plants.
5) Plantain Cultivar to Plant (Plantain Sucker)
The following are some of the varieties of plantain that can be planted in Nigeria:
Giant Elephant Sucker
The Giant Elephant Sucker is called Agbagba Erin in Nigeria. This plantain variety produced big plantain fruits.
This variety produces the biggest plantain fruits from all plantain varieties in Nigeria. It matures after 8 – 12 months of planting.
Tissue Culture Suckers
Planting tissue culture suckers is the best way of growing plantains. Tissue culture suckers are bred in clean environments, they are sterile and free from harmful pests and microbes. They cannot introduce pests into your soil or farmland.
Uprooted suckers are suckers uprooted from another farmland. The risk of planting uprooted suckers is that they may have pests and harmful microbes that can be introduced to your farm.
To use uprooted microbes, you must apply pesticides or you dip the suckers into hot water for a few minutes.
There are three types of suckers namely the peeper sucker, maiden sucker and sword sucker.
The following equipment can be used for plantain farming:
- Boom Sprayer
- Farm House
- Power Tiller
- Earth Augers
- Motorised Sprayers
- Weeders etc.
Using irrigation can enhance your plantain yield by 100 – 200%. Irrigation has been known to significantly increase the yield of plantain crop in Nigeria. It is a misconception that plantain does not need irrigation.
With irrigation, the population of plantain stands on a farm can be significantly increased. This can lead to an enhanced crop yield.
The following types of irrigation can be used for plantain farming:
- Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that provides for the wetting of the root zone of plants. In drip irrigation systems, a network of drip tapes, pipes or hoses and emitters are used to pass water to crops. For plantain, drip irrigation can be used to provide water for the crops. You can increase your plantain population with the use of drip irrigation.
- Sprinkler: Sprinklers work like rain; they spray water to the crops. Sprinklers can increase the humidity on your farm, plantain crop do well under high humidity. Spray tubes, rain hoses, center pivots and rain guns are some types of sprinklers that can be used to irrigate plantain.
- Furrow Irrigation: This is the passing of water between the ridges or beds on a farmland. Though, this is a type of irrigation, if not well done, it can lead to root rot in plants.
8) Sucker Preparation and Management
In Nigeria, suckers are usually uprooted from existing plantain farms and transplanted to a new plantain farm.
If you want to use uprooted sucker, you should treat them with pesticides before planting them. You can also use hot water treatment to clean up the uprooted suckers.
The use of tissue culture plantain suckers is the best way to start a plantain farm. To have tissue culture suckers, you need to build a mini greenhouse like structure and bury some tissues of the plantain suckers in planting bags filled with soil.
After a few weeks, the young plantain plants can be uprooted and planted in a new plantain field.
9) Transplanting of the Suckers
The suckers should be transplanted to the field in the early morning or late evening. Transplanting of suckers should not be done in the afternoon when it is too hot.
The field should be well irrigated before the transplanting of the plantain suckers. Farmyard manure or compost should be available and there must have been the digging of planting holes before transplanting of the plantain suckers.
Carefully remove the suckers from the soil or planting bag and place it in the planting hole on the field. Fill up the hole with a mix of soil, farmyard manure or compost and 70 - 200 grams of Single Super Phosphate fertilizer (SSP).
Mychorizhae and other microbial innoculants may be placed in the planting pit to speed up the growth of the suckers. If the soil is infected with nematodes, suitable nematicides like vellum should be applied.
About 1,000 – 1,600 suckers can be planted per hectare.
10) Weed Control
Herbicides like Allion can be used to control weeds on a plantain farm. However, shields should be used when applying herbicides. Shields will prevent the herbicides from touching the plantain trees.
Weed control can also be done by growing cover crops in your plantain farm. Cover crops cover the surface of the soil and serve as shield against erosion and nutrients leaching.
Plastic mulches and organic mulches can also be used to control the growth of weeds. Plastic mulch covers the surface of the soil and prevents the growth of weeds.
Cutlasses, hoes and motorized weeders can also be used to remove weeds.
11) Training and Pruning of Plantain
Most of the plantain farmers in Nigeria do not prune their plantain trees. Cutting some of the leaves of your plantain trees may enhance your yield as this will make the plantain tree devote more energy and nutrients to the production of plantain fruits.
You should not prune if you do not know how it is done.
12) Fertilizer and Manure Application in Plantain Farming
Plantain is a heavy feeder. It is also a potassium hungry crop. Plantain needs more potassium than nitrogen and phosphorus.
7 – 14 kg of farmyard manure or well cured animal manure should be mixed with soil and added to each planting hole. 200 - 400 grams of NPK 15:15:15 fertilizer and 70 - 100 grams of Single Super Phosphate (SSP) fertilizer should be added to every planting hole.
The fertilizers should be applied in a ring form around each plantain tree. Fertigation can also be used to apply fertilizers; in this case, small doses of fertilizers will be applied to the plantain crop intermittently. Fertigation is more efficient than top dressing and side dressing of fertilizers.
Microbial innoculants, chelates and humates like King Humus Plus should also be applied to the plantain crop.
Some of the fertilizers that can be used for plantain farming include the following:
- NPK fertilizers
- Single Super Phosphate Fertilizer
- Potassium Humate
- Boron Fertilizer
- Calcium Magnesium Nitrate Fertilizer
- Potassium Nitrate
- Potassium Sulfate etc.
13) Pests and Diseases’ Management
Plantain as a crop is affected by pests and disease like:
- Rhinoceros Bettle
- Viral Diseases
- Fungal Diseases
- Leaf Rot
- Bacterial Wilt
- Fusarium Wilt
- Root Rot etc
These pests and diseases can be managed with the use of fungicides, insecticides, nematicides and acaricides etc.
Plantains are ready for harvest after 8 – 12 months of planting the suckers. Harvesting is usually done with the use of cutlasses and sickles.
The plantain bunch is usually cut at the point it holds on the plantain tree.
15) Processing of Plantain Products
Plantain can be processed into the following:
- Plantain Flour
- Plantain Snacks
- Plantain Beer
- Animal Feed etc.
Plantains are usually sold in the open market in Nigeria. They can also be sold in supermarkets and other places of commerce.
You should start the process of marketing before harvesting your plantains.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a One Hectare Plantain Farm in Nigeria
The cost to start a one hectare plantain farm is detailed below:
- Acquisition of one hectare farmland: N100,000 – N400,000
- Surveying and Land Documentation: N100,000 – N200,000
- Clearing, Ploughing and Harrowing: N50,000
- Suckers: N100,000
- Planting: N10,000
- Irrigation: N300,000 – N650,000 (Optional)
- Fertilizers and Manure: N20,000 – N100,000 (Depending on soil fertility)
- Pesticides: N20,000
- Others: N100,000
For a detailed cost analysis, please contact us through email@example.com.
Should you wish to know more about plantain farming or you want to set up a plantain farm, please contact us on 08025141924 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.