Farming in Nigeria is no doubt becoming more attractive in Nigeria. Today we will be focused on how to start a plantain Business. Plantain is one of the most consumed foods in Nigeria, one can consider these Agric produce a premium as the price varies on the condition of the bunch of Plantain with unripe ones more expensive than the ripe on.
To start a business in Plantain production, you must follow these steps,
Step 1: Purchase a suitable land to start your own plantain farm.
You should purchase a suitable land that meets the basics condition of plantain farming. Plantain grows best in a condition where the soil can retain water. In a situation where you can not afford irrigation, you should consider soils that retain water, have a good humus layer and you should always improvise by incorporating animal manure to the soil to improve the humus and texture of the soil to retain water.
Step 2: Clearing the Land
You need to clear the land unless it has already been cleared by the seller (depending on the price you paid for it). It is important you clear the land as it increases the area of the land base for producing the crop.
Step 3: Prepping the land
Once the land for your plantain farm is cleared, you will need to take certain steps for making the land suitable for growing plantain. This is necessary for creating the right soil conditions for a healthy growth of these young plants, and to ensure that your plantain plantation is successful in the long run.
Land preparation should be done long before you start the process of transplantation of the plant suckers. Although this step may require significant efforts and investment, you cannot skip it, or you will have an unsuccessful harvest, which will set back your plans of owning a successful plantain farm.
Prepping the land will also enable you to structure and plan your farming operational processes and procedures.
The areas that you must consider are:
- The availability as well as the quality of water for irrigation that you have
- Mechanical actions that will need to be implemented and how they will be implemented
- Selection of land
- Any chemical requirements for improving the soil before transplantation
- Equipment and tools that will be required for the cultivation of plantain
- Labor and manpower requirements
- Leaching schedule
- Time schedule
- Financial requirements
- Hole preparation
Step 4: Purchase Plantain Suckers
Plantains are propagated vegetatively, from corms, which are underground bulbs or rhizomes or from suckers, which are shoots that grow from the bud that is at the plant base.
Since the use of the entire corm is quite laborious, the more common method is to grow those using small corms. The mother plant makes three kinds of plantain suckers, namely sword suckers, maidenheads and water suckers.
Sword suckers come with a short pseudostem and have narrow leaves, similar to blades, along with a narrow base. When they mature, they have fruitful and healthy pseudostems.
Maidenheads come with a pseudostem that is large and does not produce any fruit; white water suckers have broad leaves with short pseudostems.
Water suckers do not have a strong attachment to the rhizome and produce less fruit with weaker plants. They are less preferred in comparison to large sword suckers and maidenheads.
It is essential that you purchase suckers only from a farm that is reputable and trusted. There is no fixed price for these, a conventional sucker can cost anywhere around N50 to N100, while a hybrid will cost around N120 to N200. This price may again, vary depending on where you procure it.
Step 5: Planting
It is essential that before you begin your plantain plantation, you eliminate any grass or weed competition. To prevent any re-growing of weed, you can use mulching.
However, for turf grass, you will need to either use herbicides or go by the hoeing technique. If you are planning to plant for producing fruit, there should be a space of at least 8-10 feet in between. Irrigation needs to be applied at regular intervals to keep the soil moist. Ensure that there is no standing water since plantains are not tolerant to wet conditions.
Step 6: Inorganic and organic fertilizer
After planting, you will need to manure them using a combination of household waste, poultry manure and wood-ash for improving the growth and yield of plantains. It will also help to reduce the infestation by nematodes and borer weevils.
Organic manure helps maintain the temperature of the soil, conserve its moisture content and help regulate soil acidity. This will help you make the most of your efforts for plantain farming in Nigeria.
Step 7: Harvest
Plantain trees produce large bunches of heavy fruit, which may cause the tree to slump or droop. If you find that your plantain tree is struggling to stand up due to the weight, use string and bamboo poles to tie and prop the tree.
Fruits appear within 90 to 120 days after the tree flowers. Upon fruiting, plantains are typically ready for harvest within 6 to 8 months.
Step 8: Market
As a farmer or producer of plantain, your ultimate aim is to secure buyers for your produce. In most instances, this should be straight forward as there is currently a high demand for plantain.
Buyers can range from the mama in your local market to large companies/industries. However, since industries do not buy small quantities and require that plantains meet international standards, you will only gain access to this important market if your production is to industry specification, both in terms of quantity, quality and time.