How to start a lucrative plantain or banana farming business in Nigeria and make continuous profit for 30 years with just one-off investment.
As Consultants to Central Bank of Nigeria in HTS Business School we train entrepreneurs seeking to access the Federal Government CBN/NIRSAL AGSMEIS Loan. We are also consultants to two other EDIs that facilitate the same programme (one of them in Jos and the other one in Abakaliki). We are responsible for writing the business plans of all the candidates that go through their institutes. Across the three institutions I must have written over a thousand business plans for candidates seeking to access that loan facility in the last 18 months or thereabout.
But I noticed something about their area of interest. About 80% of the people into Agriculture are focusing on either poultry or fish farming. I also noticed that I am yet to see on single person that is going into plantain or banana farming. Of course, I never read much into that until recently when I met an Agro Business Consultant with particular interest in Plantain and banana farming. And he took time to educate me on the massive gap that exists in that niche. And exactly how profitable it can be to venture into.
I was personally impressed that I started with a plot of land in September 2021 to test run it. And within this period I have so impressed and convinced with what I am seeing that I want to do more. And that id the reason I decided to share the idea of how to start a lucrative plantain or banana farming in Nigeria.
The knowledge gap on how to start plantain or banana farming in Nigeria
The Bible said that my people perish for lack of knowledge. I never knew that this kind of opportunity exists in Banana and plantain farming in Nigeria. Yet there are millions of graduates roaming the streets of major cities in Nigeria in search of non-existing jobs. Others are busy committing suicide because American Embassy denied their visa application.
The best part of this business is that it involves just a one-off investment and you continue to reap for the next 25 to 30 years. And that is quite unlike poultry or fish farming where you have to keep restocking for as long as you are in the business. So I will go straight and share with you the gold mine I have discovered of how to start a lucrative plantain or banana business in Nigeria and how you can take advantage of it in 2022 before the market becomes saturated – right now it is still a blue ocean for anyone that cares.
Why Start Banana and Plantain Farming in Nigeria?
- If you are in Nigeria you will know that Nigerians just love both banana and plantain to the core. Banana is sold in all major junctions and bus stops in all the cities. And plantain has variety of way it is been combined to make for rich nutritious meal. Have you seen anyone that don’t like fried plantain?
- It can be an extra source of income since you don’t have to work on it on a daily basis. You simply plant and then face your other businesses or jobs. So even if you have a job you can still do it.
- According to businessinder.com plantain is in the top 10 most important crops in the world.
- In 2016, world production of bananas and plantains was 148 million tonnes, led by India and China and the world is looking for more.
- Nigeria is still importing banana from other neighbouring African countries majorly Camerron.
- Agriculture as an industry is rising generally and government is now giving serious attention to it.
- Getting funding for expansion will be very easy with both government and other funding agencies having a positive biase towards agriculture.
- Everybody is going to the Metaverse, won’t it make sense you go to the farm? By so doing you can supply them the food they need to survive when they get to their destination?
What do you Need to Start plantain/Banana Farming?
- You need a farmland
- You need the plantain or banana suckers
- Finally, you need the right mindset.
Once you have these three things you are set to start. Thankfully, plantain or banana farming doesn’t necessarily require so much specialty skill to master. Almost anyone can be able to do it just by asking the right questions.
How Much do you Need to Start a Plantain or Banana Farming in Nigeria?
I will share this based on my own personal experience. I started with a little less than a plot of land.
Approximately, a plot of land (50 by 100) will take 100 to 120 suckers depending on the spacing. Because mine is not up to a full plot it could only take 85 suckers. Each sucker (whether plantain or banana) costs about 1,000 to 1,500 naira depending on who you are buying from and the specie you are buying. I paid 1,300 for each of the ones I bought and extra 200 naira for planting. You can always get the sucker from any existing farm plantation.
So assuming you already have a farmland, which most Nigerian families are blessed with in abundance. If you can go back to your village you will be given land to farm (and even if your family don’t have farmland you can always lease. In some rural areas you can lease a plot for as low as 5,000 naira per month or 60,000 per annum). With that you just have to purchase the suckers to start.
If you are to buy 120 suckers at the rate of 1,200 each that will give you 144,000. So with other expenses you might incur along the line just budget a maximum of 200,000 naira for a plot of land. And this investment is almost 100% one-off. Now, stay with me and in a short while you will see the possible returns on that investment after just 10 months. And hopefully you will understand why you need to start a plantain or banana farming in Nigeria.
Steps on How to Start Plantain or Banana Farming in Nigeria
1. Land Preparation/Soil Type
Plantain and Banana plants thrive well in an average climate; an area that is neither too hot nor too cold. Fortunately most states in Nigeria have got a climate suited for this purpose except for few states in the far North. Well drained-loamy soil that is rich in nutrient is the best choice for optimum growth. Ensure to clear it and evacuate any non-biodegradable substance from the farm. You can allow the leaves and grasses to decompose as it adds to the soil nutrient and is much better than using fertilizer to improve the soil nutrient level.
The best planting period is during mid-rainy season, say April to July. The plant should be able to experience at least three to four months of consistent rain before the dry season sets in.
It is important you source for good suckers the success of having a bountiful harvest depends majorly on the type of suckers used in the farming. I recommend Giant Elephant otherwise known as Agbagba or hybrid suckers for plantain and Dwarf Cavendish for banana. .
The dimension of the hole for your suckers should be approximately 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. Put the sucker in the dug hole and cover the corm with the top soil that was removed when digging followed by the bottom soil place the side that was cut from the parent plant against the wall of the hole. Position the opposite side of the sucker corm towards the middle of the hole where the loosed soil is.
Irrigation I not compulsory if you plant during the mid-rainy season, the natural rain will suffice for optimum performance of your crop. But if you are planting during dry season or late rainy season then you need water for irrigation. You can get water from any neighbouring compound or sink your own borehole if you are operating at a commercial scale, and the irrigation should continue till about 5 months post planting.
4. Fertilizer Application
After one to two months of planting the sucker, you need to apply manure and poultry droppings remains the best source of manure for it, though cow or goat dung can also serve. This will further increase the growth and performance of your plantain or banana farm growth and will also cause them to be well established.
Please don’t allow weeds to compete with your plantain for nutrient else you may have wasted your investment. You can use of herbicide to kill the grasses if the farm is large, maybe running into hectares but manual labour can be used for a few plots. . Weeding should be done about 3 times before the harvest is due.
Ordinarily plantains and bananas are not staked like in the case of yam. However, if your farm is located in a place where there is aggressive wind and there are no trees to protect them from the heavy effect of winds, then it is advisable that you stake especially the plantains that are usually tall to avoid the heavy winds falling them. Staking should be done just before fruiting, and the most natural material to use for staking is bamboo sticks.
Challenges Associated with Plantain and Banana Farming in Nigeria
The major challenge you are likely to face on how to start plantain farming in Nigeria are:
- Transportation: Most farms are located away from the markets and from some residential areas and you know that banana or plantain bunches can be quite heavy. So in this case, moving them to your house or market might be a challenge
- Security: Because of the remote location of some farms there is a possibility of security threat to your crops. So it is an advantage if you get a farmland that has a fence in place. That is what I did for mine. You can also get a farmland that is close to residential area or to the road.
- Storage: As you all know already, both plantain and banana are perishable crops, if kept for too long they will over ripe and lose their market value, except you have a plan of extending the value chain by processing your proceed into flour, chips etc.
- Marketing: There is a ready market for plantain and banana but you must be intentional about that. If you don’t start scouting for market early enough you might suddenly find yourself in a mess where your products will all damage in your hand. So I strongly recommend that you start networking with potential buyers even before your crops are ready.
Harvesting of your plantain or banana after maturity in Nigeria
Harvesting should be done once the bunches are very greenish and big or they have started showing signs of ripening. For both giant elephant and hybrid specie the crop is ready for harvest after 9 to 10 months from planting.
Marketability of your plantain after harvest
Nigeria as a country is yet to meet the demand for plantain. So there is still a ready market for it. Sell them to market women, plantain chips companies, individuals, institutions and plantain flour companies. But start making your contacts before the plants are ready. Same thing applies to banana. But you cannot take any of this for granted. You must make efforts to see that people know about your farm and come for it.
Use every channel available to you to market it.
Sale of the banana suckers
Let us stick with our example of just a plot of land. Recall we agreed to plant 120 suckers in that single plot of land. Now before maturity, each of those suckers can yield another 3 to 5 suckers for you. And you can sell each of them for 1,200 to 1,500 naira depending on your market.
Let’s assume that on the average we are able to sell just two of the suckers from each of the mature plants which will give a total of 240 suckers. And if we sell them at the rate of 1,000 naira per sucker, you will be smiling home with 240,000 naira. But that is not yet your harvest.
Sale of the plantain or banana bunches
So let’s assume that from the 120 suckers planted that you harvested 100 bunches of banana. And you sell each of them at the rate of 5,000 naira (some sell for 7,000 or more) that will give you 500,000 naira.
Add the 500,000 naira to your 240,000 from suckers and you will have 740,000 naira revenue from a plot of land. Remind me of how much we invested in this – about 200,000 naira I guess! So in a space of 10 months you just made a profit of 540,000 naira from one plot. What if you have up to 10 or 20 plots, what will your profit be like?
That is not the blue ocean you are expecting to hear from me yet. The blue ocean is that without any extra investment (other than weeding), you will be getting similar returns for the next 20 years or thereabouts – what an investment! Unfortunately not many people are talking about this.
I have already started my own farm and I will strongly advise that you consider that in 2022. There are many farmlands that are lying fallow out there. Go and speak with the owners and they will be willing to do business with you.
One last advice: You can even go into partnership with land owners. Let them give you the land for free, plant your plantain and share the returns with them. Whatever arrangement that works for you is okay as long as you make a move.
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