Plantain farming is one of the most profitable business in Cameroon.
If that is what you are here for, then We would like to let you know that one of the most profitable businesses in Cameroon you can start with little capital, if you are interested in the agric sector is to go into plantain farming business.
Plantain is one staple food widely grown in Cameroon and many other African countries due to its carbohydrate content.
The capital required to setup a plantain farm can be considered to be moderate.
You can start your small Plantain farm on a plot of land.
With little capital, you can start your small Plantain farm on a plot of land, buy some plantain suckers to plant, land preparation, weeding, clearing and harvesting processes.
Depending on the spacing between two suckers, you can plant 200 suckers on that plot of land.
Starting A Profitable Plantain Farm In Cameroon with Little Capital Giving 5% allowance for losses, you will be harvesting 190 bunches Your profits depends on the timing of harvest (8-10months) and the ruling price in the market and the density of competition.
The basic thing you need to do to get started with your own plantain farm is to secure farming land, prepare the land and then cultivate your plantain.
1. SELECTING THE PLANTAIN FARMLAND
You can lease or buy a plot of land at least to setup your Plantain farm.
The site should be easily accessible, especially if the establishment of a large field is being planned.
It should be well drained but not too steeply sloped.
Plantain cultivation is impossible if the land becomes flooded from time to time, or has 11 a water table at a depth of only 50 cm or less.
The soil should be rich in organic matter (black soil). Hence fields in a long natural fallow, under an improved established fallow or with a lot of mulch are recommended.
2. PREPARING THE PLANTAIN FIELD
Fields are to be prepared with minimum disturbance to the soil (no-tillage farming).
In consequence, manual clearing should be preferred to mechanical deforestation because bulldozers always remove top soil with the important organic matter and compact the remaining soil.
When an old natural fallow is cleared, the debris from the forest should be burned if plantain cultivation is planned for 1 or 2 cycles only.
If perennial cultivation is being considered, planting should be done through the mulch.
Young fallows of about 3 to 5 years or improved legume fallows should be simply slashed and left without being burned.
Trees must be cut but the stumps are not to be removed, and the trees should be left to grow again.
They can be pruned only when they start to obstruct field activities or shade the plantains.
Once the fallow crop is slashed, the field is ready for pegging.
Drains should be dug if some spots in the field tend to waterlog after heavy rains.
3. SPACING PLANTAIN FARM
The recommended spacing is 3 m between the plantain rows and 2 m within the row (in other words. 3 m x 2 m).
An alternative is 2.5 m x 2.5 m.
If spaced 3 m x 2 m, 1 hectare should contain 1667 plants, but with a spacing of 2.5 m x 2.5 m, it should contain 1600 plants.
Rows should be straight in flat fields to give plants the maximum amount of sunlight.
However, on sloping land, rows should follow the contour lines in order to decrease soil erosion.
4. SELECTING CULTIVARS
For field cultivation, medium plantains should be preferred
to giant ones even though giant plantains produce heavier 12 bunches.
Giant plantains take longer to produce and are more likely to be damaged by strong winds because of their size.
The decision whether to grow a French or a False Horn plantain cultivar should depend on which type the
Horn plantains should never be cultivated as their yield is very low.
5. PREPARING PLANTAIN SUCKERS
Suckers are separated from their mother plant with a spade or machete.
The sucker corm must not be damaged or chipped.
Consequently the corm should be carefully peeled with a machete.
The pseudo stem of the suckers should be cut off a few centimeters above the corm.
Peeling of the corm delays the development of nematode infestation,
while cutting of the pseudo stem reduces bulkiness and improves early growth of the newly planted sucker.
The peeling process is just like that for cassava.
A freshly peeled healthy corm ought to look white, but corms infected by stem borers and nematodes show brown and black spots which have to be removed until only white tissue remains.
If the infestation is severe, with many brown and black spots, the sucker should be destroyed.
Sucker preparation (peeling) is carried out in the field where the planting material is collected.
This is to avoid contamination of the new field with roots infested with
nematodes or corms with stem borers.
Prepared corms are transported to their destination where they are left to dry for a few days (not in the sun).
Suckers have to be planted within two weeks.
Storage of suckers for more than 2
weeks will adversely affect future yields.
Suckers are planted immediately after field preparation during mid rainy season.
Plant holes are prepared with a minimum size of about 30 cm x 30cm x 30 cm.
Care should be taken to separate the topsoil from bottom soil.
The sucker is placed in the hole and its corm is covered, first with the topsoil and then with the bottom soil.
In the plant hole, the side of the sucker corm which was formerly 13 attached to the corm of its mother plant is placed against the wall of the hole.
The opposite side of the sucker’ corm is placed towards the middle of the plant hole, where the soil is loose.
The best sucker (the future ratoon) will emerge at the side opposite to where the planted sucker was previously attached to the mother plant.
If the land is sloping, the sucker should be so oriented that its follower will emerge against the slope.
That will delay the development of the
so-called high mat when the ratoon crop grows out of the soil and exposes the corm.
7. CHOOSING THE TIME TO PLANT
Plantains can be planted throughout the rainy season.
How-ever, they should grow vigorously and without stress during the first 3 to 4 months after planting, and therefore they should not be planted during the last months of the rainy season.
Planting with the first rains seems
agronomically sound but not financially advantageous.
Most farmers will plant at the onset of the rains,causing the market to be flooded with bunches 9 to 12 months after planting, when prices will be very low.
Planting in the middle of the rainy season is a better proposition as
plantains will then be produced off-season and get high prices.
Organic matter is essential for plantain cultivation if the field is to be very productive for a long time.
A high level of organic matter in the soil is beneficial because it stimulates root development, improves soil drainage, de- creases soil temperature fluctuations, and increases soil porosity and biological life.
Organic matter decays under the influence of microorganisms in the soil, heavy rainfall and high soil
The amount of organic matter will gradually decrease once the field has been cleared and cause a decrease in yield.
Therefore newly established plantains
which receive only fertilizer will produce a high yield only in the first year.
In the second year the yield will drop
because the organic matter will have decomposed.
To compensate for this continuous decrease in the amount of organic matter, the field needs mulch from plants and/or manure with a machete.
The sucker pseudo stem is cut off
near its corm and the point of the machete is twisted in the growing tip,
thus killing it.
Controlling high mat
After production of several ratoon crops, the upper surface of corms in aging plantain fields can be seen above soil level.
The exposure of the corms, which is called high mat, is believed to have several causes.
The nature of ratooning in plantains seems to be particularly important.
High mat exposes the roots which
The plants become weak and tip over easily because they are no longer firmly based in the soil.
Earthing up (adding soil around the plant) does not help much.
However, mulch protects the roots which would otherwise dry out and improves the ‘ ramification and
stability of the plants.
Managing The Fallow Period
A field which becomes unproductive should be left fallow. If plantains are to be planted again after a fallow period, the following points should be considered:
1. At the beginning of the fallow, all plantain mats should be entirely destroyed.
Otherwise, remaining plants could maintain nematode and stem borer populations which would readily infest newly planted plantains after the fallow period.
2. Only manual destruction guarantees the complete elimination of the existing plantain mats.
3. The level of organic matter in the soil should be raised as high as possible during the fallow period in order to restore fertility.
This can be done by allowing trees to re-grow and /or by planting a legume cover crop.
4. The fallow period should last at least 2 to 3 years.
Plantain production in Cameroon is still very much in the hands of small scale farmers who incorporate it into different farming systems.
The effort of these farmers should be collaborated with a good and adequate social infrastructure, like better roads and transport and efficient extension services.
Future research on plantains should address the issue of intensive cropping and nutrient and water requirements to increase productivity both on-station and on-farm with farmers’ participation.
This will assist in meeting the ever increasing demand of this crop by both household consumers and the new small scale industries.
With the recent interest in establishment of plantain farms, as evident by the increase in cultivation/harvested areas, the country’s productivity will be tripled in the next few years.
It is believed that the country will for a long time be one of the highest producers of plantain around the world starting a Profitable Plantain Farm In Cameroon with Little Capital.