Plantain farming is a profitable venture in which farmers can conveniently and easily recoup their investment without much stress if they follow the right process.
A plantain farmer in Edo State, James Okhiokpaimwonyi, described plantain farming as an income-generating business and a means of employment.
He said, “For a new person going into plantain farming, he would first of all acquire a land; depending on his or her financial capability. After acquiring the land, the farmer employs a worker to clear the land before looking for suckers to plant.
“If the land is not fertile enough, the farmer adds animal dung, get suckers for planting and plants 700 per hectare.
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“The normal time to start planting and get a good result is between April and August, and the planting spacing is four meters apart. Plantain is not good for planting during the dry season.”
He listed government policy, availability of land, capital, labour, among others, as challenges confronting plantain farmers.
He said, “But the common one is storage. The peak production of plantain is between August and December and we can’t preserve it because it ripens easily almost at the same time.”
He added that, “There are a lot of benefits in plantain farming because like tree crops, it takes time before it dies, and if you have any, it is an investment that is stable provided you apply manure.
“Plantain can be intercrop with other tree crops but one can harvest within a year and it is a continuous process as it didn’t die after harvesting like cassava.
“In plantain farming, you harvest and the sucker will still grow and one can also sell the sucker to get money, so it is profitable.”
On the market, Okhiokpaimwonyi said, “There is a huge market for plantain. We get customers from Lagos and other parts of the country.
“The local market for plantain is thriving because once you harvest and take it to the market you get buyers.
He, therefore, called on the people to inter-crop plantain with other tree crops, while those who were looking for jobs should look for plots and start plantain farming.
He lamented that they have not got any assistance in terms of inputs and loans from the government.
He, therefore, called on the government to try and assist farmers, make provision for storage and export of the product, while also giving incentives to young farmers.