Plantain farming in nigeria is one of the staple crops business in the country. Plantain is as well a viable source of income for small scale farmers who grow it in their garden. Plantains grow in clusters because every matured plantain plant produces a number of baby suckers which are not pruned out. Plantain farming is a viable agro business, anybody can do it. It is not stressful. The maintenance to be carried out on the farm includes manuring the soil, weeding, propping and harvesting.
Choice of land
The land you plan to use ought to be readily accessible, particularly if you plan to establish a large farm. It need to be well drained but not in an area with a very steep slope. It should be well drained but not too steeply sloped. Plantain cannot thrive well in a marshy environment, a land with a very shallow water table or a land area that is flooded every now and then.
The chosen land must be loamy soil which contains organic matter. It is great if you can make use of a piece of long time fallow land.
Plantain farming does not require tilling the ground. Thus it is better to make use of manual laborers instead of mechanized land clearing which commonly eliminates the top soil with organic constituents and make the rest art of the soil compacted.
Planted is best cultivated in a row of with a spacing is three meter between the rows and a space of two meter within the row. You can also use a spacing of 2.5 meter between and within rows. A plantain farm with a spacing of 3 by 2 should contain around one thousand, six hundred and sixty seven plants while one thousand six hundred plants is recommended in a hectare of land with a spacing or 2.5 both between and within rows. A straight row is preferred as it allows enough flow of air and sunshine through the farm.
Choosing suckers to plant
If your plantain plantation is not the backyard one but the field one, it is better to choose the medium-sized plantain suckers than the giant ones. Giant ones are sure to produce bigger fruits but they are usually affected by adverse weather condition like strong wind. They also take longer period to reach maturity.
The chosen ought to be alienated from the matured plant with either a spade or machete. Care must be taken not to cause any form of damage to the sucker corm. Take care and peel it with a machete and cut of the false stems of the suckers some centimeters over the corm. When the corm is peeled it makes less easy for nematode disease to attack the plantation while cutting the false stems makes it less bulky.
How to plant your plantain sucker
You need to plant the suckers as soon as you are done with the preparation of the land for cultivation. The planting should be made 30 by 30 by 30 cm each. You should be careful to separate the top soil from the bottom soil. When you have put the sucker into the planting hole first cover it with top soil and then the bottom soil. Also try to put the part of the baby corm that was formerly attached to the mother corm to lean over the wall of the planting hole.
The right planting season
Plantains are grown all through the periods of the rainy season. Do don’t plant them during the last months of the rainy season as they need roughly four months to grow well under a good and suitable atmospheric condition and weather. Planting during the early part of the rainy season is good.
It will result to a good yield. However, the maturity period will fall at a time when most people will bring theirs to sell and so you will tend to make less gain. It is better to plant during the middle part of the raining season as this will make your plantain to mature during the scarcity period which will yield more money for you.
Mulching, manuring and fertilization
Plantains need sufficient organic matter to thrive well. It provides a suitable environment for the growth of the plant and ensure good yield. Apart from the action of organic matter on the soil, you need to occasionally provide addition nutrients to the soil through fertilizer either organic or inorganic fertilizer.
It is better to mix up both organic and inorganic fertilizer to enjoy the unique benefits of each of these types of fertilizer. Fertilizer application should be started a month after planting.
Weed control is essential in plantain farming. You need to weed the farm every six to eight weeks but the effect of the weed will get less when the canopy of the plantain leaf have grown thick around 6 months after planting. You can do this manually or mechanically.
Propping up the stem and fruit
When the plantain yields fruit, as it grows bigger, you need to prop it up to provide support and prevent breakage or damage to the fruit before maturity.
The plantain is harvested when the bunch is roughly 3 months and when one or two plantain out of the bunch is beginning to look yellow in color.
That’s the basic guide about plantain farming in nigeria, if you need further clarification, please use the comment box,