Plantain is one staple food widely grown in Nigeria and many other African countries due to its carbohydrate content.
Other food like beans, rice, and groundnuts all make very good combination when taken with banana or plantain. Think again about the delicious chips that we like to eat, all these and many more are the end products of plantain.
With at least N40, 000 you can start your small Plantain farm on a plot of land, buy some plantain suckers to plant, land preparation, weeding, clearing and harvesting processes.
For an acre of land, you may spend less than N300,000 to have every thing done and that includes clearing as the needs may be until the first harvest.
After the first batch of harvest your plantain plant would keep producing more fruits till the harvest season is over. So you do the planting once and the rest is harvest every season.
To Start a Plantain Farming (Plantain Plantation) business:
GET A LAND
You can lease or buy a plot of land at least to setup your Plantain farm. Any farmland you select should have the right type of soil and located in an area with favorable weather condition for the growth of plantain.
Loamy soils are the best producing soils for plantain farming because they contain a good organic to inorganic ratio. Organic materials, such as decaying plants and insects, provide soil with air, nutrients and water-retaining matter.
This combination of ingredients, when combined with mineral particles, allows soil to remain loose and fertile. The land should be naturally fertilized but If such is not available, you can create compost and add chicken manure to your existing land.
PREPARE THE PLANTAIN FIELD
Fields are to be prepared with minimum disturbance to the soil (no-tillage farming). The activities involved in preparing the land include clearing the land of bushes, trees, stones, stumps, etc. Land preparation also involves tilling the land and application of manure to improve land fertility (for less fertile land).
In consequence, manual clearing should be preferred to mechanical deforestation because bulldozers always remove topsoil with the important organic matter and compact the remaining soil.
SPACE THE PLANTAIN FARM
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.
Rows should be straight in flat fields to give plants the maximum amount of sunlight. However, on sloping land, rows should follow the contour lines in order to decrease soil erosion.
For field cultivation, medium plantains should be preferred to giant ones even though giant plantains produce heavier 12 bunches.
Giant plantains take longer to produce and are more likely to be damaged by strong winds because of their size.
Get Healthy Suckers Plantain
Plants are grown through suckers. Suckers are those that grow from a dying, mature plantain plant that can be transplanted and re-grown. They are outgrowth (shoot) which develop from the bud at the base or corm of the mother plantain plant.
Plantain suckers mostly contain short and narrow leafs on them. There are three major varieties of plantain suckers: water suckers, maidenhead and sword sucker. Choose suckers from plants that are vigorous Keep around two to five meters between planted suckers.
In the early days of your plant, keep them moist but not too wet as they don’t have leaves yet to evaporate the water.
A freshly peeled healthy corm ought to look white, but corms infected by stem borers and nematodes show brown and black spots which have to be removed until only white tissue remains.
Plant The Suckers
Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation during mid rainy season.
Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30 cm x 30 cm. The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil. Give five meters gap between plants and keep the plants moist at the early days.
Do not over wet the soil because the leaves are not yet out for much water evaporation.
Within 8-10 months your plantain should be ready to produce, and as one is getting matured for harvest, another one is replacing it, they continue in that circle removing any stress expenses of planting again.
All you do is to harvest and reap your profits all year round. The same thing apply to Banana.
Use an NPK fertilizer, or a fertilizer mixed with nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Fertilizing the plantains once a month will stimulate growth.
Control The Weeds
Use traditional weed control of employing laborer to do the weed cutting. Plantain do not need complicated pruning. Just remove dead leaves and dead plants near the plantain. Also remove suckers from the plant keeping only one or two that have spear shaped leaves.
The best breeds to go for is the ‘hybrid/agbagba’ species. This is a good specie because apart from producing on time when properly taken care of, its usually very big and long.