Plantain farming is the cultivation of plantain on a farm. It can be a very profitable farming venture in Nigeria.
In this article, you will learn the following:
- How to start plantain farming in Nigeria
- Steps to take so that your plantain farm will be successful
- Strategies to use so that your plantain farm will be profitable
All Nigerians eat plantain so it is a very marketable food product. This healthy food also has a lot of uses. If you know how to market farm produce, you will smile to the bank.
How to start plantain farming in Nigeria
1. Conduct a feasibility study
Depending on the level of your investment, you can engage an expert to help you to write a feasibility note and a business plan.
You can write your business plan yourself by going around to ask for information and data about plantain farming in Nigeria and the marketability.
Do not skip this process. Don’t rely only on what you read on the web. Hit the street and ask critical questions about plantain farming.
2. Get yourself trained in modern farming
Cultivating plantain the way our forefathers did it is likely to make you lose your investment. A lot of plantain farmers in Nigeria do not know how to cultivate plantain efficiently. They just dig holes and plant.
You need to get yourself trained on how to cultivate plantain. If you cannot manage your farm yourself, ensure you engage experts who are skilled in plantain farming. Do not be deceived to employing those who claim to be experts but who do not know anything about farming. This set of people are everywhere on the internet.
3. Acquire farmland
To maximize your profit from plantain farming, it is better you acquire farmland in rural areas in the rain forest belt of Nigeria.
Why rain forest belt? Plantain needs a lot of water in order to have a good yield. Rain forest and mangrove swamp zones of Nigeria receive more rainfall than all other climatic zones in the country.
You should not rent or lease farmland for plantain farming. It is better you acquire farmland.
Get good farmland in states like Ondo, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Edo, Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ekiti, Cross Rivers, Imo state and other southern states in Nigeria.
For states with less rainfall, you will need irrigation preferably drip irrigation.
4. Land preparation
You must take off the trees and stumps on your farmland.
You can also plough and harrow the farmland. If your farmland is virgin, you can use no till farming.
A lot of manure should be used when cultivating plantain.
Though not common, some farmers prepare wide beds when cultivating plantain.
Do not forget to do soil and water test.
5. Install drip irrigation
With drip irrigation,, your plantain plants can get water all year round. Most plantain farmers in Nigeria cultivate this crop in the rainy season. Their plantain plants get only 5-6 months of rainfall. Imagine, your plantain gets water through irrigation all year round; the yield will be 50-100% more.
The yield can even be more than 100% if you practise fertigation.
Fertigation is the act of passing nutrients in form of soluble fertilizers to plants through the drip irrigation system.
6. Get clean tissue cultured plantain seedlings
Never be deceived into buying uprooted plantain suckers. In most cases, these plantain suckers are already infected and diseases. When you introduce a diseases sucker into your farmland, you can bring new diseases and harmful to your soil that will affect any crop you grown on the soil.
It is recommended that you buy a clean tissue cultured sucker. Some of these suckers are bred in laboratories while some are grown in clean greenhouses.
A clean tissue cultured sucker is likely to give you increased yield because they do not have any diseases or pests that can impact their growth.
7. Do the planting
A lot of people who are engaged in plantain farming get it wrong from the planting stage.
The first rule is to get a lot of manure. When covering the hole you dig, you should not return the soil to the hole, instead use manure to fill up the hole.
This will make your plantain crop yield very well.
It is advisable that your plantain is planted in the months that will ensure that you harvest at the lean period.
8. Farm management
You should endeavor to manage your farm well. Obey all the best agronomical practices.
If you do not know how to manage a plantain farm, it is always better you engage an expert.
You should harvest your plantain after 8-11 months depending on the variety.
It is better you harvest your plantain when they are still unripe.
Start marketing before you even plant.
Go around and ask questions about plantain marketing.
It is also better you plant and harvest during the lean times of the year. The price of a plantain bunch in Nigeria varies as much as 50-100% in Nigeria.
If you can, avoid selling your plantain in local markets. Do not sell through middlemen as they are likely to cheat you.
Selling processed plantain products will make you more profit.
Strategies to use to make money from plantain farming in Nigeria
To maximize your profit from plantain farming in Nigeria, you need to implement the below strategies:
a) Proper irrigation
Never listen to those who say you do not need irrigation for plantain farming in Nigeria. Using irrigation especially drip irrigation can increase your yield significantly.
Plantain plants need a lot of water all year round. Do not reply on rainfall alone.
Get a drip irrigation system installed on your farm.
A lot of the fertilisers sold in Nigeria is sub-standard but the media will not report it. I have tested a lot of fertilizers and the results came out as a shock.
Patronise credible companies only when you want to buy fertilizers.
Also practise fertigation. As explained earlier, fertigation is the passing of fertiliser or nutrients to your plants with the use of venture injector or dosing pump.
A venture injector is connected to the drip irrigation system.
c) The use of microbial innoculants
Introducing beneficial microbes to your soil will positively impact the yield of your crops.
There are good microbial inoculants and humates you can use for plantain farming.
Humates like King Humus acts as a food for microbes. The humates help in the rapid multiplication of beneficial microbes. It also increases the Ph of the soil and makes the soil healthier.
d) Use of good pesticides and inputs
The use of good pesticides like fungicides and insecticides will make your farm disease and pest free.
Check the expiry date of pesticides before you buy them. Also make sure you buy from credible sellers.
e) Process your harvested plantain
Plantain processors make more money than those engaged in plantain farming in Nigeria.
You can process plantain to the following products:
- Plantain flour (Amala)
- Plantain chips
- Plantain porridge etc
FAQ on Plantain Farming
1) Question: How profitable is plantain farming?
Answer: Plantain farming can be very profitable. It is not uncommon to see plantain farmers making millions of naira as profit in Nigeria. A one hectare plantain farm can return a profit of over N1 million if well managed.
2) Question: How long does plantain take to grow?
Answer: Plantain takes 7 – 9 months to fruit. You can start harvesting the plantain bunches from the plantain trees after 9 months. Some varieties may take a little more than 9 months to reach the harvest stage. Ripening of the plantains usually take 1 – 2 weeks after full maturity of the plantains.
3) Question: How many plantain trees can you get per acre?
Answer: 500 – 1200 plantain trees can be planted on one acre of land depending on the crop spacing you use. Drip irrigated farmlands can take more plantain trees than those without drip irrigation system.
4) Question: What is the best time to plant plantain?
Answer: the best time to plant plantain in Nigeria is the rainy season as there is abundance of water. The humidity level during the rainy season also positively impacts the planting of plantain.
5) Question: How many times do you harvest plantain in a year?
Answer: Plantains can be harvested 1 – 2 times in a year. In the first year of planting, plantain can only be harvested once in a year.
6) Question: How can you set up a plantain plantation business?
Answer: You need a suitable and fertile farmland, plantain suckers, manure, fertilizers, labour, tropical climatic conditions and well ploughed farmland in order to set up a plantain plantation business.
7) Question: Where can I sell plantain in Nigeria?
Answer: Plantain can be sold in the open markets like Mile 12 market, Lagos, Nigeria. You can sell plantains anywhere in Nigeria. You can also sell to hotels and supermarkets.
8) Question: Which fertilizer is best for plantain?
Answer: NPK fertilizers, potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate and chelates etc. are the best fertilizers for plantain. Plantain is a potassium hungry crop so it loves fertilizers rich in potassium.
9) Question: What climate do plantains grow in?
Answer: Plantains prefer tropical and humid climatic conditions.