Plantain is a very lucrative crop and a great source of food for both human beings and animals. It is so lucrative that it can sustain farmers who are into it’s cultivation or farming for a very long time even up to 20 years as it is self propagated, which means it can take care of its self once it grow and can reproduce new ones by itself once it grow old and die.
Plantain is a tropical plant that is greenish in colour and bears greenish fruits which is used to prepare many delicacies. It is in every part of the world,but does well in a rain forest, as it is a heavy drinker, it store water in it’s body as you can see them running out when you puncture a plantain stem.
Plantain is loved and eaten by billions of people, especially in African countries, this made it to be very costly because it is always in high demand.
With this level of high demand from people, especially direct consumers, no wonder any Country hardly export plantain to another country, this is because the plantain farmers or plantain production of Countries do not satisfy their local needs and thus hardly possible for exports.
Although plantain is grown in many countries like Asian countries, Caribbeans countries, America and Europe, but the production is is very much in Africa like The Southern Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo and many more, but surprisingly, non if these African countries known as heavy cultivators of plantain exports, because they need to satisfy the huge domestic demand first.
This will show you or give you the idea of how lucrative this business is when you succeed in it.
In this article, I will be giving out the full information about plantain, it’s business potential and it’s farming process.
First I will disclose the process involved in cultivating it, check the table of contents below.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TYPES OF PLANTAIN
COST OF STARTING A PLANTAIN PLANTATION
PREPARATION OF PLANTAIN FARM
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF PLANTAIN FARM
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW
STAGES OF PLANTAIN FRUIT
TYPES OF PLANTAIN
There are 2 types or breeds of plantain in my locality or area, they are Agric plantain and non Agric plantain or ordinary plantain as people refer them.
Although both of them are plantain and look exactly almost the same, but people distinguish both breeds of plantain with many features
This breed of plantain is very fast in production of fruits, thus farmers love to farm it, but it is very scarce and if seen, very costly to buy the sucker, because of high demand from farmers.
This breed of plantain is called agric plantain mainly because it is quick to grow and quick to reach harvest stage.
They distinguish this breed from the other one based on how, this particular breed is shorter than the other one that you might mistake it as a banana, it is and faster to adopt in any land it is planted.
Non Agric Plantain
This breed of Plantain is not quite similar to the former breed I explained above in features, although their fruits are the same.
This is the most common type of Plantain as it is not as costly as the other type, hence anybody can get the sucker for a token and even to the extent of getting them for free from maybe your neighborhood.
Non Agric Plantain, as people refer it has quite the opposite characters with agric plantain. It is taller in height than the former.
It takes time to grow and mature. One good thing about this breed is, it is not easily affected by diseases or harmed by pests.
COST OF STARTING A PLANTAIN PLANTATION
You can not talk about Plantain farming or cultivation without first of all talk about the cost of starting it.
The cost of starting it may vary, based on the locality you are and you are planning to site your farm or in your country.
The first thing to consider is the cost of farm land. By far, this is the most important thing so far, as it is more costly than any other thing and it is where you will farm your Plantain plants.
Land is very costly in some places and a little bit fair in some places too, so I suggest you buy land at the rural areas, as they are cheaper there than in urban areas or cities.
If you have land already, it is a bonus for you as you have overcomed the most expensive step in Plantain farming.
Make sure you site your farm where there is good amount of sunlight, good loamy soil and good rain fall.
Let’s assume you now have your land, the next cost that will incur is buying the Plantain sucker.
By now you must have chosen the breed of plantain you will cultivate,now it is time to go and get them!. Go to market or anywhere you can get them.
Cost of labourers and equipments. Although hiring of labourers and equipments is optional as you can do the work on your own, depending on the size of the farm land. If it is a large farm land, you might need labourers or equipments like tractors to clear the land for you and even dig the hole for you where you will plant your plantain suckers.
Cost of transportation is one of the costs that incur as those Plantain suckers needs to be transported either from the market or anywhere you got them, depending on locations.
Cost of fertilizer. This cost is applicable when there is not much soil nutrients in the farm land, so you need to buy fertilizer and improve the soil, this is a cost.
PREPARATION OF PLANTAIN FARM
We have explained above land and costs or expenses involved in this, now the next step is to prepare you farm land.
Once you have gotten good farm land where there is adequate sunshine, good soil and adequate rainfall, the next thing to do is to prepare the land and keep it ready for planting.
To prepare the land, as always you need to clear the land by removing any harmful substances like nylon or rubbers from the ground if any and cutting and uprooting trees in the farm.
It is important to leave the trees that are not exactly inside the farm, but around it so that they could protect the plantains from wind, if the farm is located in a place where there is much wind.
Make sure that those trees you leave for protection does not in anyway prevent the sunlight from penetrating the farm.
You might need labourers or equipments like tractor, for a these, depending on the largness of your farm.
When you are done with clearing, dig holes of about 2 feet deep and give a gap or space interval of 3 feet from one hole to another, so as to give them enough space when they grow.
When you are through with all the clearing and digging of holes, the next step is to plant your plantain suckers.
At this stage, go and buy the suckers, depending on the type or breed you want or you can lay your hands on.
It is highly advisable to procure or transport the suckers in the morning or late evening, don’t transport them in the afternoon under hot sun as it is not good.
it is also good and advisable to cover the roots with large bag, leaving sands in it so that the sucker will still be fresh and not dry if the distance from where you got them is very far to your farm.
When you have successfully gotten your Plantain suckers, plant then each in one hole and you should already know that the roots must be in the ground, while the stem and the leafs should be outside on the surface.
After you are through with planting them, cover the holes in which you have planted the suckers with sand.
It is necessary to get green leafs, (compost) and cover the bottom around each of the sucker, so as to prevent too much rain fall from washing away the soil nutrients. To help the soil more, add manure like pig or goat dungs to the bottom of the suckers.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF PLANTAIN FARM
When you have successfully planted those suckers, the work is not yet done because you need to take care of the in many ways.
As your young plantains (suckers) start to grow, they are faced with many challenges that if neglected could kill your plants or impair their normal growth or even affect the harvest negatively.
These challenges are weed, pests and diseases.
Weed is a challenge to Plantain farming. They will sprout out and out grow the suckers and suck all the soil nutrients, leaving the plants with nothing, but malnutrition which will impair their grow or harvest, or even breed diseases that could attack the plants.
So once you notice them springing out from the ground in your Plantain farm, quickly go and kill or remove them. Weeding in Plantain farm is not hard as there is enough space.
You will only need to weed when the plants are still tender in their sucker stage, once they have passed that stage, weeds will have no much effect on them.
Pest control is also one of the ways to take care of this plant, both when they are still tender and when they have grown and have fruits.
At small stage, the suckers are at the risk of attack by fowls or ducks for they love eating the new leafs, thereby destroying the suckers, so keep them off from the
Pests don’t only attack the sucker alone, but also the fruits. When it has fruits and they have matured, go and harvest them because if they still stay and ripe there, birds, squirrels,bats will feed on them.
Disease do affect this plant too. There is a type of disease that may affect them or some of the suckers that may decay them from the roots thereby killing them.
Look out for them too and consult the right physician.
This is why it is important or necessary to disinfect the land with the necessary medicine so as to kill any disease in the farm before you plant.
In some cases, but not usual, the land may reduce in nutrients, you need to look out for it and know when they are charging colour from dark green to light green, at this juncture, pour more of animal dungs and wastes from kitchen on them, this will help them or buy fertilizer and apply.
Plantain does not need much care after they have grown, be it watering, fertilizer, weeding etc as they sustain themselves and re-grow for many years, so therefore, no work is required of you once they have grown, only to be harvesting them consistently.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW
The next question you might want to ask is, how long does this plant take to grow and start having fruits? Like I said above at the beginning of this article, I will cover everything about Plantain!.
There are two types or breeds of Plantain. between the two, one is a bit faster than the other one, so their growth level are not the same, although they have the same fruits.
The Agric specie or breed is faster as it take between 8 months to 11 months to start having fruit or fruits, while the other specie – the non Agric specie will start having fruit or fruits at 11 months to a year and one or two months.
Although the growth standard may be affected by the soil, so it is important to maintain the soil nutrients for effective growth.
Plantain sometimes do not grow only one fruit, many times, a single Plantain tree may grow about two or three fruits, soil plays important role in this.
You have managed to grow your Plantain and they now have fruits which have mature enough for harvest, it is time to harvest them.
Once the fruits are matured enough to eat or take to the market, you will know because they will be big and some might even start to ripe.
Don’t wait till it start ripping, once they are big, go and harvest them.
Note that the plantain trees will not bear fruits at the same time, and the fruits will not mature at the same time, even on the same tree, every fruit matures on their own time, so harvesting of them is a steady process, from time to time, some will mature and you harvest them.
To harvest them, you need a cutlass. Cut them down from the stem gently so that the tree will start bending slowly till you get hold of the fruit, then cut out the fruit and take it out an cut the tree proper.
You need to cut the tree gently so that the tree won’t fall with full force and smash the fruit into pieces.
The above guideline is how to cut the Plantain trees with only one fruit.
For the ones with 2 or 3 fruits in one Plantain tree, all of them may not mature at the same time, hence you don’t need to cut down the whole tree, unless you destroy the smaller fruits in the tree.
To harvest this type of Plantain trees that has 2 or 3 fruits, there is a strategy to it.
You need to buy tool for harvesting Plantain or you build one for yourself.
Take a very sharp knife and tie it strongly to a long wood, use it to cut the fruit and be ready to catch it when it falls or it will smash. Although this is a risky game, but a good alternative.
Another alternative is very simple, take a ladder and climb, and cut it up there!.
When you cut down a plantain tree or harvest, you shouldn’t think of packing the tree or trees or what to do with them, all you need to to is to cut them to pieces and litter them all over the farm as it helps to improve the soil when it decay by serving as manure and also it shield the soil nutrients from being washed away by excessive rain fall.
STAGES OF PLANTAIN FRUIT
The plantain fruits have 3 stages, wether they are harvested or still up in their trees .
At stage one, this is the period when the fruit have just matured newly and is dark green in colour.
Even when harvested and kept for few days, it will still be the same. This is the stage many buyers rush it and it is very costly now. This is because it is used for many recipes like plantainchips, pounded plantain, porridge, roasted Plantain and many more recipes.
At this stage, the inside of the plantain,at the middle is a big yellow in colour when opened and is not sweet at all! That is why is is always recommended to diabetes patients .
This is the second stage of the Plantain fruits. This is when the fruits have started ripping or have fully ripped.
At this stage, the fruit shell ( peel) is fully yellow in colour and have turned very sweet. You can lick them if you want.
They are used for making good meals at this point like baking, making custard, porridge, cooking beans, rice, etc.
At the second stage, the fruits are almost the same in demand as when it was in the first stage. In some places, at this stage, they are more prefared to the unripe stage. Also at this stage, it is now sweet as the starch in it have turned to glucose and it is now soft and peelable compared to the first stage when it was hard in shell and inside.
On the first stage, it might not have much pests coming for it, but in this 2nd stage, it attracts many kinds of pests, like insects, rats,birds, squirrels, bats, monkeys, etc.
This is the last stage before it spoil or decay. This time, the shell will turn dark and the inside will turn light yellow or almost white in colour, and very soft.
At this point in time, it is getting spoiled, it will be more sweet than in the 2nd stage and more soft.
It still has a lot of pest coming after it.
Although is might be used for cooking and eating, but it is not as useful as it was in the first and second stages.
Foods like beans could still be prepared with it at this stage.
Now the price have reduced drastically as many people are not after it now as it has reduced in usage.
Only people who enjoy taking them with beans or rice will buy at this stage.
Storage is very important in the lives or every farmer, and so it is not different in the case of Plantain.
Although Plantain fruit is not like other crops that are highly perishable. Although it is perishable, but not very common and quick unless it is kept for a very long time.
Before ever it spoil, it will pass the stages I mentioned and explained earlier above, so, at any stage, you need to control it or them before they pass the final stage which is followed by decay.
There are 4 methods of Plantain storage, they are:
This is the method of storage by freezing the Plantain in a freezer.
This method is not widely acceptable because it is very good for storing ripe Plantain, although you can store unripe Plantain in freezer, but it is not quite as good as storing ripped ones.
In some cases, the ripped ones will start turning into Plantain juice (watery) because of the coldness caused by the ice which is water. It is advisable to use it for short time storage and you can only use this method to store for personal or domestic use.
To store with this method, you need to peel off the shell, both ripe and unripe Plantain, wash and place them in a dry and clean container before placing them in the freezer to freeze.
This method of storage is only applicable to unripe Plantain.
It is the method of drying the Plantain fruits under the sun till they are fully dried. This always goes with grinding them after they are dried and storing them on a container as Plantain flour.
Plantain flour in almost does not spoil as it could be kept for months and years, they will still look the same when brought out and plantain flour is used in making foods and could be sold at a high price. it
for me,this is the best way of storing Plantain for a long time.
LEAVING THEM ON IT’S TREE
This too is a strategy for storing Plantain fruits also, but is is the shortest method of them all.
With this method, you can store for a week or 2 by leaving the plantain in it’s tree, not harvesting them till you are ready to take them to the market or supply to buyers.
It has been proven that plantain fruits that is still on their trees are slow in riping and spoiling than the ones that have been cutted down from their trees, so this is a strategy for storing Plantain fruits for a short while till when they are ready to be eaten or sold.
This method is still a short time method of storing Plantain also.
You peel the plantain fruits, both ripe and unripe, wash them,cut them into smaller sizes, put on an on frying pan and place on fire, put the sliced plantain on the hot oil and fry till they are dry and done, bring them out, allow to cool and place them inside a bag or a dry container and store.
This method of Plantain storage is a short time storage as it is stored for days or week, depending of the climate.
It is mainly for those who love Plantain chips or who are into the business.
Plantain is a very high demanded crop in almost every country.
like I said above earlier, the local or domestic demand of this great plantain is always high and amazing that no country exports this product on a large scale as the need of the citizens or domestic need for it needs to be satisfied before export.
So this have made plantain a very high demanded commodity as people will always crowd for it, even in the market or at home or even in the farm as some people will choose the ones they will buy even before harvest and some will even pay before harvest.
At this stage of hunger for it, you will always stand the chance of controlling the prices of your product, thereby letting you sell at your own price or close to it.
Plantain is sold at anywhere in my place, market, restaurants, hotels, at home, and even at the farm.
With the level of rush, you can never say there is no market for it that’s why you can’t sell or nobody is buying, which is nearly impossible!
In the Eastern part of Nigeria, a bunch of Plantain is sold some where from N800 to N3000 depending on the size. This is how costly they are!.
If you have a large Plantain plantation/farm, it will be making you consistent income as they will always bring new sucker once you harvest the old one, sometimes the sucker will be more than one, which will multiply your farm instead of reducing and also it will be making you more income as you will always sell the sucker to farmers for farming.
Plantain farming has made or groomed many millionaires as the level or number of income exposed to this farming is unlimited, consistent, durable and requires little or no task.
Plantain cannot be highly loved, adored and demanded without having some good uses or benefits it renders.
There are many benefits and uses of of Plantain, they are the reasons why Plantain is what it is in the view of the majority of the people. The uses or importance are classified below as.
This is the most important reason why people buy Plantain.
It is a great food for both human beings and animals.
Animals like pig,rat,fowl, rabbit,sheep,goat, duck, guinea pig, etc do feed of this plant and it’s fruit , more especially the ripe ones.
Not only the fruit and the sucker, the shell or peel is also a good food to animals like sheep, cow,pig,goat,rat, and even fowl.
Insects also is not left out of this. The only difference is, they are attracted more to the riped ones instead of the unriped ones.
Human beings is this crop to prepare many kinds of delicious foods like cooking of beans, porridge, chips, cooking rice, taking bread, roasting, pounding for pounded Plantain which is used to eat soup, making flour for baking, making corn cake, mulching etc.
Although the type of foods it could be used to make varies from nations to nations as the few I listed above are the only ones applicable to me in my area, so there are different foods to be made from Plantain in different nations.
Plantain is not only for food, it has some medicinal values which many people do buy it for.
It has been scientifically proven that plantain fruit contains Iron, calcium which aids for strong bone and teeth, many vitamins, especially ripe ones, Carbohydrate,Glucose, and many more.
The unripe ones are very good for a diabetic patient as it serves as an alternative to Garri, fufu and semovita for a diabetic patient and it is alleged to reduce the blood sugar level.
In some tradition, the root is used for a ritual of cleansing people when they touch a corpse or enter into a mortuary.
I greatly hope you have learned good informations about Plantain, please feel free to contact me via email for any queries and I would appreciate it if you share this article on social media/networks.
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