Top 10 mistakes in plantain cultivation in Nigeria
Plantain cultivation is unarguably one of the most lucrative farming businesses in Nigeria. Plantain cultivation can make you money if you can avoid the mistakes made by most plantain farmers in Nigeria.
The truth is that only a small percentage of farmers in Nigeria make money from plantain cultivation. I will highlight and explain some of the top mistakes made by plantain farmers below:
Planting uprooted suckers
Most of the plantain farmers I have seen in Nigeria plant only uprooted suckers. This is dangerous and not worth the risk. Uprooted suckers can bring new pests and diseases to your farmland. Most uprooted suckers are also infected with diseases; they hardly produce well when it comes to the time of harvesting. I strongly advise you use tissue culture suckers. You can get this type of suckers from us; you can also produce tissue culture suckers yourself. In the case that you do not have access to tissue culture suckers, you can use hot water treatment for your uprooted suckers.
Unhealthy and poor soil
The first thing to do when engaging in plantain farming is to make sure that your soil is fertile and free from pests and diseases. Do not forget to check the pH of your soil, if too acidic or alkaline, you must amend the pH. You should also do a complete soil profiling and analysis to know the nutrients profile and the pests and diseases in the soil. Generous amount of manure, microbial innoculants and humates should be applied to your soil.
Not having irrigation in place
Most of the plantain farmers in Nigeria rely on rains. This is a great mistake. You can increase your yield by as much as 120% if you use drip irrigation for your plantain farm. This will make the plantain trees have access to water all year round. You can also fertigate with the drip irrigation system. I have seen a plantain farmer who increased his yield by 185% because he used drip irrigation system with fertigation capability.
Poor use of fertilisers
It always surprises me when I see a lot of farmers not using any fertilisers or manure for their plantain farms. Plantain in particular is a potassium hungry crop; you need a lot of potassium fertilisers if you want to get a good yield from your plantain farm. You also need fertilisers that will supply nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients.
For the potassium fertilisers, you can use muriate of potassium (be careful about the chloride), potassium nitrate, mono potassium phosphate and potassium sulfate. Other fertilisers that can be used for plantain farming include calcium nitrate, calmag and NPK etc.
For some types of soil, it will do you well to apply as much as 5kg of manure to the planting hole when planting the suckers.
Do not forget to do a soil test before applying your fertilisers and manure.
Poor pest and disease management
Pests and diseases can significantly reduce your yield in plantain farming. I have seen farmers who harvested nothing from their plantain farms due to the effects of pests and diseases.
You should stock and use high quality pesticides. Do not be tricked by cheap prices of some pesticides in Nigeria, most of them are sub-standard.
Poor Weeds Management
Weeds can reduce the yield of your plantain crops significantly. Your plantain farm should be clean clear of weeds at all times.
Weeds can be removed by hand, machines or through the use of herbicides. Some herbicides can prevent the growth of weeds for several weeks.
Not watching out for wind
High wind can damage your plantain trees. You should have wind breaks when cultivating plantain. You can also use ropes to tie your plantain crops together so that they will be able t resist wind.
Reckless usage of fertilisers
Yes, fertilisers are good for plantain farming. However, the reckless and excessive usage of some types of fertilisers can damage your soil and also make your plantain crops more susceptible to pests and diseases.
High nitrogenous fertilisers though good can make plants more susceptible to diseases if used excessively; they can also prevent the plants from making use of other nutrients.
Reckless usage of pesticides
Pesticides should not be carelessly used as they can kill beneficial insects and microbes. They can also damage the environment and the soil.
The plantain farmer should source for markets before the harvesting of his crops. Plantain farmers will make more money by selling their plantains in their own store or shops. Selling in the open market should be the last resort.
You will do well if you can strive to avoid or address the above explained mistakes in planatin cultivation in Nigeria.