Challenges of plantain farming in Nigeria
Plantain farming can be a very profitable venture if done the right way. I have seen a number of farmers who make several millions of naira yearly from their plantain farms. I have also seen those who lost their life savings on plantain farming.
As easy as plantain farming may look, it has its own challenges. The good news is that the challenges can be addressed.
Challenges of plantain farming in Nigeria
- Land Ownership
- Infected Plantain Suckers
- Sub-Standard Fertiliser and Other Inputs in Nigeria
- Diseases and Pests
- Poor Agronomic Practices
- Financial Problem
- Government Policies
1) Land ownership
The ownership of land in Nigeria is vested in the state government. This has negatively impacted the practice of farming in Nigeria. However, there are enough farmlands for plantain farming and other types of farming in Nigeria.
2) Infected plantain suckers
A significant percentage of plantain farmers in Nigeria buy plantain suckers that are uprooted from infected soil. These suckers are often infected with nematodes and other diseases.
Planting infected plantain suckers may make you lose your investment. Infected plantain suckers can also bring new pests and diseases to your farmland. These diseases can affect any crop you plant on your farmland.
Farmers should endeavour to buy clean or sterile tissue cultured plantain suckers. This type of suckers is free from diseases and pests.
3) Sub-standard fertiliser and other inputs in Nigeria
There are very few quality fertilizers and agro inputs in Nigeria. Even big brands sell sub-standard fertilizers and other agro-inputs. I took 10 samples of fertilizers I got in Nigeria to a laboratory in the United Kingdom for analysis; the result showed that all the fertilizers were sub-standard.
Most of the fungicides, insecticides and other pesticides sold in Nigeria are also sub-standard. A lot of unsuspecting farmers keep buying these agro inputs without seeing any result.
4) Diseases and pests
To be successful in plantain farming, you need to prevent and attack pests and diseases. Prevention is always better in farming. A good farmer should strive to prevent pests and diseases by using quality pesticides.
5) Poor agronomic practices
A lot of farmers do not really know how to cultivate and maintain a plantain farm. Some farmers commence the cultivating of plantain on their farmland without conducting soil and water test. How can you start farming without doing soil test?
Another issue is the blind application of fertilizers. Most Nigerian farmers are used to NPK 15:15:15 and urea fertiliser. No crop needs NPK 15:15:15. There are other good fertilizers like potassium nitrate for plantain, MAP, DAP, chelates, calcium nitrate and potassium sulphate that can be used for plantain farming. Some fertilizers should be applied during the initial stage, some during flowering and some during fruiting.
Manure should also be extensively used for plantain farming. This is what most farmers neglect. As a rule of thumb, manure should be used to fill up the hole created for planting of suckers.
About 90% of plantain farms in Nigeria rely on the rain for irrigation. The climate change the world is experiencing is negatively affecting the weather pattern. Rainy season is getting shorter and it is now becoming very tough to predict the onset of rain.
You cannot compare the yield of a plantain crop irrigated throughout its lifespan with one that is irrigated only during the rainy season which may not be more than 4 months.
Irrigation is key in plantain farming. Drip irrigation can solve the challenge of supply of water in plantain farming.
You may have a good yield from your plantain farm and find it very tough to sell the plantain fruits. You need to do your marketing research before you even start cultivating the crop. Do you want to sell your plantain in the open market?
Do you want to sell in organized markets like supermarkets and hotels? Do you want to sell to a selected group if people? These are questions you need to ask yourself before you start plantain farming.
8) Financial problem
Some plantain farmers know what to do but they tend to cut corners because of paucity of funds. It is better not to engage in plantain farming if you do not have the needed fund. Cutting corners will make you lose your hard earned money.
Weeds can significantly reduce the yield of your plantain crop. Weeds mismanagement can be one of the challenges of plantain farming in Nigeria.
Herbicides can be used to address the issues of weeds on farms. Tools like mechanized weeders, cutlasses and hoes to remove weeds on the plantain farm.
Mulches can also be used to prevent the growth of weeds on your plantain farm.
10) Government Policies
Government policies targeting food production in Nigeria are one of the challenges of plantain farming. It is almost impossible to export plantains in Nigeria; this is due to the roadblocks government policies are causing in international trade.
Do not go into plantain farming if you know you cannot address the challenges of this type of farming venture.
If you have any challenges in your plantain farm, you may reach us through firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08025141924.