Plantain has been recognized as one of the most lucrative farm products in Nigeria, capable of yielding 100% returns in profit. Not only does it serve as a major staple, but it can also be made into snacks as well. What’s more, several bakery and food production firms are relying heavily on plantain to serve various purposes. As a result, plantain is always in demand. This has made more farmers venture into plantain farming.
Though plantain is very lucrative, being ignorant of the challenges facing the production can pose serious threats to the farmer’s expectations. This article, however, intends to enlighten farmers and investors willing to venture into plantain farming, about the challenges facing plantain production in Nigeria so they can make good management decisions.
The challenges facing plantain production in Nigeria include:
The bedrock of any farm practice is getting appropriate land for their farming. This also greatly applies to plantain farming. Getting enough and fertile land in a good locality free of predators could be hindered by cost, especially as land could be expensive in some areas.
Getting Adequate Manpower for the Planting:
Plantains, just like other major food crops, are planted immediately the rainy season commences. Hence, farmers compete for adequate manpower for the planting processes. This makes the labour for plantain farming more expensive.
Farmers going into large scale farming can make use of mechanized tools while those opting for smaller-scale farming should ensure the manpower is adequately sourced for before the planting season.
One of the most disturbing challenges in plantain production is non-uniformity of growth. This can go a long way to affect the farmer, especially during harvest. Farmers will have to wait for different harvest periods and spend more managing the farm and transporting the produce to the market or the consumers.
Non-uniformity of growth in plantain farming often occurs as a result of planting bad plantain suckers. To avoid this, farmers should invest in healthy suckers such as the hybrid tissue and cultured suckers to get growth and harvest uniformity.
Pest and Disease:
Pest and disease are among the top challenges facing the plantain family in Nigeria. Diseases such as black leaf streak caused by banana weevils greatly affect plantain production.
To manage pest and diseases on a plantain farm, farmers should introduce biological control techniques, or use recommended pesticides.
Quality Reduction after Harvest
Although plantain can be in their best condition after harvest, the rigorous handling of the plantain bunches during harvest, storage, and transportation can make some fingers of plantain detach from their bunch. The handling can also bruise the plantain skin. All of these can reduce the quality of the plantain as well as the market value which tends to appreciate based on how healthy the plantain looks.
Poor Storage Facilities:
Poor storage facilities and the perishable nature of plantains can pose a threat to the yield and market gain. This is because plantains are without a doubt affected by factors such as humidity, air composition, exposure to light, and so on.
All these can make plantain ripen faster than expected and if not immediately sold out can turn bad which in turn affects income.
To avoid this, farmers should invest in good storage facilities as well as invest in marketing even before harvest time. Farmers should not wait till harvest time before they start sourcing for buyers. A good distribution method should also be put in place.
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