Am an Agribusiness Consultant based in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
My company is Natural Nutrient Limited.
LET’S DISCUSSED EVERYTHING ABOUT SETTING UP A PLANTAIN FARM.
What is a Plantain?
Plantains are a member of the banana family. They are a starchy, low in sugar variety that is cooked before serving as it is unsuitable raw.
Unlike starting other tree farms, starting a plantain farm and growing plantain are easier and less complicated.
Although growing plantain still requires ones attention, the level of skill required is not as intensive as other trees.
Here are a few guidelines in growing plantain and starting a plantain farm.
Step 1. LAND PROCUREMENT.
The first thing to consider in starting a plantain farm is looking for the right climate. Plantain cannot thrive in an environment that is too hot or too cold. The proposed land/soil for your plantain farm must be a well drain land that is rich and naturally fertilized but If such is not available, you can create compost and add chicken manure to your existing land.
Now that you have the land what next?
Step 2. LAND CLEARING.
The next thing after land procurement is land clearing:
Land clearing is the process of removing trees, stumps, brush, stones and other obstacles from an area as required to increase the size of the crop producing land base of an existing farm or to provide land for a new farm operation.
You can do manual or mechanized land clearing depending on the size of the proposed plantain farm
Step 3; LAND PREPARATION.
When establishing a new plantain farm, certain actions need to be implemented to ensure the long term success of the plantation. One of these actions involve the initial land preparation which should be done prior to transplanting of the plant material suckers.
The purpose of land preparation is to provide the necessary soil conditions which will enhance the successful establishment of the young suckers.
Considering the nature of plantain one can not “save” on this operation and hope for long term of the plantation.
The aim is to enable the planter to plan and structure the implementation process in advance, ensuring the successful establishment of the plantain farm. Planning forms part of the initial preparation and will help to limiting unnecessary stoppages during the implementation phase.
Critical factors to consider during this planning exercise are summarised as follows:
– Availability and quality of irrigation water;
– Field selection;
– Mechanical actions to be implemented;
– Chemical needs for pre-plant soil improvement;
– Tools and equipment needed for plantain cultivation;
– Labour needs;
– Irrigation design and installation;
– Leaching schedule;
– Hole preparation;
– Financial requirements and
– Time schedule.
Step 4; PLANTAIN SUCKER PROCUREMENT.
Plantains are vegetatively propagated, most often from suckers (shoots that grow from a bud at the base of the plant) or from corms (underground bulbs known as rhizomes). The use of whole corms is very laborious so it is more common to grow from small pieces of corm.
Please note: There are three different types of plantain suckers which are produced by the mother plant namely; maidenheads, sword suckers and water suckers.
Maidenheads have a large pseudostem which does not produce fruit.
Sword suckers have a narrow base, short pseudostem and narrow, blade-like leaves. They produce healthy, fruitful pseudostems when they mature Water suckers have short pseudostems and broad leaves.
Water suckers are not strongly attached to the rhizome and generally produce weaker plants and less fruit. Maidenheads and large sword suckers are preferred over water suckers.
You need to buy your suckers from reputable farm. There is no stable price for suckers, you can get conventional sucker between N50-N100 and hybrid between N120-N200 depending on your source.
Step 5; PLANTING.
If you are planting for fruit production it should be spaced about 8 to 10 feet.
Please note weed and grass competition should be eliminated prior to planting.
Mulching is useful to prevent weed regrowth, but turf grass may need to be controlled by hoeing or with herbicides.
Irrigation should be applied periodically to thoroughly wet the soil. Avoid standing water, as plantains do not tolerate overly wet conditions
Step 6 A&B; ORGANIC & IN-ORGANIC FERTILIZER APPLICATION.
This is the next step after planting
Manuring plantains with a combination of poultry manure, household waste and woodash improved plantain growth, yield and establishment and greatly reduced infestation by borer weevils and nematodes.
The organic manures also maintained soil acidity, regulated soil temperature and conserved soil moisture.
I advise that you water and fertilize Plantain at the same time using any type of balanced fertilizer to help grow Plantain. Plantain are heavy feeders so i suggest that you fertilize very lightly each time that you water with the exception being that you do not fertilize if you are not seeing active growth.( Balanced fertilizer means – a fertilizer that has three numbers on the label like NPK.
Source: Natural Nutrient Limited, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.