Plantains are from the genus Musa and they are banana cultivars. They are starchy and their sugar is smaller than the desert bananas. The Linnaeus classification puts bananas into 2 species which are Musa paradisiaca is for plantains.
Both of them are hybrids across these 2 species which are: Musa balbisiana ( genome of B) and Musa acuminata (genome of A).
However the name of Musa * paradiasa is applicable to all the hybrids.
Do Plantains Have More Classification?
Plantains normally refer to any category of banana cultivar. Nevertheless no formal botanical classification exist among plantains and bananas. Cooking relates to custom and not a necessity.
There may be distinction that is clear between bananas and plantains in certain countries. However this distinction does not exist in many other countries.
The term ‘plantain’ is applicable to ‘true plantain’. The rest of the starchy cultivars have the name ‘ cooking bananas’. The grouping of cultivars are into ABB Group and AAA Group.
Uses Of Plantain
As the ripening of plantains take place, it tends to become sweeter and the change of transformation of colour is from green and then to yellow and black. Green plantains have a flavour resembling potatoes. Plantains of yellow colour are softer.
Yellow to black plantains can be utilised as sweeteners for dishes. Plantain chips is among the most common snacks in the world. This can be given to children as for snacks. One can also eat plantain with stew. Plantains are used in many parts of the world in different manners.
Different countries have different ways of eating plantains but plantain chips is almost found in every part of globe. Plantains happens to be among the staple food that worldwide. The carbohydrate content makes the plant awesome. It is no 10 on the top list of staple food eaten across the globe.
One can prepare plantain in various manners which are frying, boiling and roasting. The food can be eaten with palm oil after roasting. Another way of using it is to pound it to floor. You may decide to cook it with beans. Frying or eating it raw are also options.
The Market Demand For Plantain
2.8 million metric tons is the quantity produced on a yearly basis in Nigeria. The quantity is consumed in Nigeria. The plantain demand is not yet met. Nigeria is not a plantain exporter. However there is much demand for this produce in Nigeria.
One plantain bunch is N1500 and 50 plantain bunches is N750000. Another advantage is that plantain does not require replanting. There is already a market for plantain in Nigeria.
Steps For Starting A Plantain Business In Nigeria
The following steps are necessary for your plantain plantation business in Nigeria:
Land is the most essential for the cultivation. You may decide to buy the land or not. This depends on whether you have land already. Buy a hectare or two if you can afford it. You may also lease land.
The crop does well for a loamy soil category. Tropics need a huge quantity of mulch and also compost. They need this to avoid depletion. Ensure there is no pest infection.
Take pre-planting measures. Ensure favourable weather conditions for growing the crop.
The states in Nigeria with the largest plantations of plantain are: Ekiti, Delta, Edo, Ogun, Cross River and other tropical states.
Improving The Land For plantain
If it happens that the land you wish to use is not nutritious, then develop the land. You can do this by the application of organic manure. Examples of organic manure are cow manure etc.
This makes the soil more fertile. Go for land that has thick vegetation when selecting. Thick vegetation shows that there is right soil in the land. Land with thick vegetation is good for plantains.
Getting plantain suckers
Plantain sucker refers to the seed. You can get it at an affordable price. As you buy, buy the ones with leaves spear shaped of small size and up to a feet high. Do not severe the root.
Planting Your Plantain
You make enormous holes in the soil for this.
They can be some meters off each other and this is to prevent the plant from striving among each other.
The suckers of this crop grow new plants. They develop base buds. The sucker of this crop can develop also from the corm of the mother plant. As you go for suckers, go to farmers that will offer suckers that is free from pest damage and diseases.
The length of the suckers should range between 4-5 feet. Plantain plantation spacing of 10 feet between two suckers is preferable. The soil should be wet in a moderate quantity. The cost is not fond of waterlogged regions. Taking the plants is necessary after planting. Avoid using urea on your plants.
Plantain Variety To Plant
Varieties of suckers exist. They are:
- Water suckers which is not suitable for this business since they are low yield and weak suckers.
- Sword or maiden suckers which offers you the best for the plantation.
The price of suckers varies. This price is dependent on the location. Majority of the farmers offers you discounts. The discounts are buyers purchasing in bulk quantities. It is preferable to purchase healthy suckers that would be functional for several years.
Labour For Your Plantain Plantation
Hiring of labourers is depend on the farm size. More labourers will be required for activities like harvesting and weeding and preparing land. You may also decide to handle your labour in a mechanical manner. If your budget is much and you are running on a large scale, then mechanisation is suitable for you.
Controlling Weeds In The Plantain Plantation
The part is crucial. Control the weeds to promote plantain yield. Unnecessary plants compete for soil nutrients in the soil. This makes the farm to require weeding constantly.
Use of manual labour is applicable. The use of chemicals is dependent on farm size. Nevertheless, if you intend to put fertilizer into your farm, do it in the right proportion. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium should be at the right proportion.
Tilling of the plantain leaves to the ground can promote the fertility of the soil. You can decide to do the weeding once in a month. However this may need labourers. Applying and mulching in dry season is also applicable.
Transplant a sucker to the next place as it comes up. Put NPK type of fertilizer. This should not be overlooked.
Harvest Of Plantain
You do not need to plant it again after you have done your planting. You harvest round the year. Other plants are replaced as they are harvested. The plants tends to be ready within 8-10 months after planting.
The fruits tends to be harvest ready from eight to ten months. As the harvest starts, the plants manufactures more fruits until after the season. Harvesting should be next immediately the plantain ripes.
Marketing Process Of Plantain
The demand have for it have increased. The market for it is already in Nigeria. Supply to firms that make plantain for flour and market locally. There is an increasing market for this business in Nigeria.
The Cost Of Plantain Plantation
Plantain cultivation cost estimate is dependent on many factors. Doing the clearing, planting and weeding will reduce the starting cost. However if you are hiring labourers, it can be up to N400000.
This price above does not include land and it can be low or high depending on the scale. You can realise 4 times your starting capital no matter the size of your starting capital. Harvesting continues for more than 5 years.
This article is a guide on starting a plantain business in Nigeria. One advantage of this business unlike other agricultural business is that you don’t have to plant again to harvest for a second time and so on. Don’t forget to ask questions with our comment box if you have any.