If you’re planning to start a plantain farming or plantation business in Nigeria, then you’re on the right page. Here, you’ll learn all you need to know to get started.
One of the few agricultural ventures that can be described as a true investment is plantain farming. Plantain farming is one of those ‘fit for all’ businesses that could be run successfully with little attention once it is established.
We have all consumed plantain in one form or the other. Actually plantain provides more than 25% of the carbohydrate requirement for about 80million Africans. This singular fact makes plantains a part of the top ten staples that feed the world and the plantain farming business a very lucrative one.
Let us delve more into this plantain farming business and explore the potentials thereof.
The Demand and Market for Plantain
Nigeria is not known worldwide for the production of plantain not because we do not produce enough plantain but because the plantain we produce does not satisfy the country’s domestic demands so we can’t even consider exporting plantain.
The demand for plantain is so high because it is consumed in different forms by different people and it is also used as raw materials. Plantain is used in making plantain flour. Plantain can be eaten boiled or roasted. They can be fried and eaten alongside with rice or beans. They could also be processed into plantain chips, popularly called ‘kpekere’.
Now that we have established the demand for plantain, your entrepreneurial mind may already be jumping in the excitement of discovering such an opportunity but here is the real shocker: Nigeria produces about 2.8 million metric tons of plantain annually and almost all are consumed locally so if a bunch of plantain costs N1000 the market size should be roughly N450 billion- assuming that a bunch of plantain is 10kg. I am not very good in mathematics so I stand to be corrected but what this means is that in a year people spend about N450 billion buying and selling plantain.
Wow! I forgive you if your entrepreneurial mind wants to explode. I think you should let it explode you into action. Just make sure you read on to find out how you can start your own plantain farming business and begin to tap into this huge market.
What you need to begin a plantain plantation business
We all know that you need land for growing any type of plant but what I want to emphasize here is that you need a particular type of land. Plantain grows best in Tropical regions. If you are serious about plantain farming as a business, then you will need to acquire a fairly large land, say a hectare or two. The land should preferably be a virgin land but if that is not possible, you can revitalize a used land by using manure and compost fertilizers. Another thing to consider when acquiring a land for plantain farming is the water retaining capability of these lands. You need a land that drains well as young plantain plants don’t do well in wet conditions. In preparing your land for plantain farming, you have to put into considering the PH value of the land. You have to treat for pests and do some pre-planting improvements.
Plantain seeds (suckers)
The Plantain plant is not a tree in the real sense of the word. Plantains cannot be propagated from seeds like other trees. It is an herb and like most herbs it is propagated through asexual methods. The element for plantain propagation is called sucker. Acquiring the plantain sucker will be the very first challenge you may have to face. Experts advice that you visit reputable plantations with vigorous plants and purchase suckers from them. When purchasing look for suckers with small, spear shaped leaves and are about one foot high.
Suckers are normally priced around N180.
When planting the suckers you just acquire, your holes should be spaced by at least a couple of meters. This will ensure that the plantain trees will not compete between themselves. Also there is a need to remove all types of weed and grass that can compete with these suckers before you begin planting. You may use herbicides to prevent the re-growth of these weeds. Remember, that soil need to be only slightly moist.
The plantain plant is very easy to take care of. But the process of taking care of the plant will be responsible for about half of the work and expenses in your plantain plantation business. Like every other plant, the plantain plant cannot do well amidst weed. So strict weed control should be put in place. Protect the plant from strong wind and provide it with water. As far as fertilizer go, the dead plantain leaves that falls off can maintain soil quality but if you want to apply synthetic fertilizer, then a very balanced one with Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium should be used. Please never use urea for your plants.
How much do you require to start and run a plantain farm till harvest?
The answer to this question pretty much depends on the size of your farm and the nature of your health. If you are going to be involved in the weeding, fertilizer application and other farm activities, you will greatly reduce the cost.
As a quick approximation I will say that half a million naira i.e. N500,000 will be enough to start and run a plantain plantation till harvest. This approximation assumes that you will involve yourself with the farm work even when you hire laborers.
Are there other things you should know?
- Plantain farming is really lucrative. If you can plant a hectare of plantain, you will get your money back in your first harvest
- Once established, your plantain farm will give you money every week as different trees will become ready for harvest at different times.
- Shelu Abu, a Managing Director at Shelu Farms in Ikorodu once told news men that “even if you spent N1,000 setting up a plantain farm, I can assure you that within a year and six months, you will make N4,000”.
Yet, these plantain trees will continue to give you money for at least three to five years. Now that is a true investment!
Let us know what you think and your experiences with plantain farming in the comments. We love to interact!