How To Start Banana Farming in Nigeria: The Complete Guide
Nigeria has one of the largest agricultural sectors in Africa. This industry contributes about 40% of the country’s GDP and employs up to 70% of the Nigerian workforce. Nigeria is blessed with abundant lands, resources, and climatic conditions that allow her to produce different varieties of food and cash crops in its agricultural sector while facilitating the accelerated growth of the individual agribusiness sub-sectors.
One of such agribusiness that contributes to the food and economic value of the country is Banana farming in Nigeria.
According to Wikipedia, Banana is the 4th largest agricultural product in the world following wheat, rice and corn. In 2016, world production of bananas and plantains was 148 million tonnes, led by India and China. The industry exports worldwide total over 100 million tons in a market which generates over US$5 billion per year and employs millions of workers.
With a widespread demand for the crop, Banana farming in Nigeria is growing at a fast pace.
What Is Banana Farming About?
Banana farming is the cultivation of the banana crop for consumption and industrial use. The fruit varies in size, colour, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with a soft flesh rich in starch and covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe.
Facts And Benefits Of Banana Farming
- Banana trees are the world’s tallest herbaceous plant. They can reach 20 feet in height. “Herbaceous” means there is no woody stem and all the plant matter above the ground dies at the end of a yearly cycle.
- Banana contains potassium-40 which is a radioactive isotope potassium.
- Over 100 billion bananas are consumed annually in the world.
- Bananas can help with weight loss and digestion. They are high in fiber, which can help keep you full.
- Bananas are picked unripe green and exported this way.
- Bananas are composed of 75% water, despite their firm texture and rather dry mouth-feel.
- Bananas may be helpful in preventing kidney cancer because of their high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds.
- Bananas don’t grow on trees. Rather they grow from a root structure that produces an above ground system.
- There are over 1000 different banana species in the world today.
- Banana plants are often mistaken for trees or palms – they are actually herbs
Business opportunities in Banana farming
1). Source of food:
Bananas are a great source of food as they contain three natural sources of sugar: sucrose, fructose, and glucose, making them a source of instant and sustainable energy and can be consumed raw in the form of salad or pickled.
Bananas can be easily diced in mixed fruits salads, or as juice, margaritas, limeade, desserts e.t.c.
Types of Banana Varieties
- Red Banana: They are also known as the Dacca Banana. This type of banana has reddish-purple skin. They are usually smaller and plumper than the common Cavendish banana. When ripe, raw red bananas have a flesh that is cream to light pink in color. Its flavor is sweet and creamy with raspberry highlights. Red bananas are available year-round.
- Cavendish banana: This is the most common banana variety in the world. This type of banana are long and yellow in color. They go from under-ripe green to perfectly ripe and still firm yellow, to more ripe deep yellow with a brown spot or two.
- Lady finger bananas: They are also known as sugar bananas. Their fruits are small [4 to 5 inches (10-12.5 cm) in length], thin-skinned, and very sweet. The skin is thin and the flesh is sweet. Each hand consists of 12 to 20 fingers, with each bunch typically having 10 to 14 hands. It blooms during mid-summer, late summer, and early fall.
- Apple banana: This is one of the most common banana cultivars in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. The plant flowers are yellow, purple, or ivory in color and its plant reaches a height of 10 to 13 feet. They are usually called banana because of their slightly acidic, apple-like flavour. The Apple bananas are available year-round.
Setting Up Your Banana Farming Business
1). Get A Suitable Spacious Farmland:
The first step to planting bananas is to acquire land that is suitable for their growth. Banana plants usually grow in tropical regions where the temperature is at an average of 80° F (27° C) and the volume of rainfall yearly is between 78 and 98 inches. Bananas need rich, fertile, and dark soils with a relatively steady moisture in the ground and air, including a great drainage.
2). Choosing The Banana Breed:
The next step is to select the banana breed you plan to grow. The breed chosen should based on what type of bananas grown in the region you intend to plant on and what type of bananas you intend to sell. when you have these questions answered, choosing the right banana breed to plant would be easier said than done.
3). Planting The Banana:
You can acquire a banana sucker (small shoot from the base of a banana plant) from another grower or plant nursery. During planting, the following should be considered:
- The best suckers to use for your banana plant are usually around 1.8-2.1m in height and have sword-shaped leaves that are thin, although suckers that are small should work fine if the main plant is healthy
- If the sucker is still attached to the main plant, remove it by cutting downward with a shovel. Include a reasonable portion of the underground base and its roots that are attached.
4). Tending To The Crops:
As you should weed frequently, pay extra attention to details to ensure you do not to go below a certain cm that would affect the banana crop’s growth. To ensure they get firm and juicy, you should water them every week, as this will contribute to the crops’ water content.
The banana stalk will usually take about 75 to 80 days from the period of flower production to when the fruit is mature. The fruits are generally going to be 75% mature, but the thing about bananas is that it can be cut and used at various stages of its ripeness, and even green bananas can be harvested and cooked just like plantains.
The moment you want to harvest your bananas, use a knife that is sharp to cut the “hands” off.
After harvesting the bananas, you should store them in a shady and cool environment. Ensure that you do not keep them in a refrigerator, else, they’ll be prone to getting damaged.
Challenges Of Banana Farming
Some of the challenges of Banana farming in Nigeria and many parts of Africa include:
- Lack of experience
- Low and unstable investment in agricultural research
- Financial Constraints
- Storage Constraints
- Farm Inputs Constraints
- Infrastructural Constraints
- Marketing Constraints
Banana farming in Nigeria can be a lucrative and profitable agribusiness because it could provide a year-round income, delivers a relatively quick return on efforts and investment, and the crop recovers quickly from natural disasters. If you’re looking for an agribusiness to venture into, banana farming could be the one.
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