The banana is an edible fruit botanically a berry produced by several kinds of large herbaceousflowering plants in the genusMusa. The fruit is variable in size, color, and firmness, but is usually elongated and curved, with soft flesh rich in starch covered with a rind, which may be green, yellow, red, purple, or brown when ripe. The fruits grow in clusters hanging from the top of the plant.
When a banana plant is mature, the corm stops producing new leaves and begins to form a flower spike or inflorescence. A stem develops which grows up inside the pseudostem, carrying the immature inflorescence until eventually it emerges at the top.
Raw bananas (not including the peel) are 75% water, 23% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contain negligible fat (table). In a 100 gram amount, bananas supply 89 Calories and are a rich source of vitamin B HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B6″6, and contain moderate amounts of vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. Although bananas are commonly thought to supply exceptional potassium content, their actual potassium content is relatively low.
Purchase suitable land to start your own plantain farm
Banana needs the right kind of climate to grow- for it cannot survive in too hot or too cold environments. If you already have land you need to ensure that it meets these basic conditions.
Banana grow best in conditions where the soil retains water. You may not have the means to carry out irrigation so you should consider soils that retain water, have a good humus layer and you should always improvise by incorporating animal manure to the soil to improve on the humus and texture of the soil to retain water. You can also make your own compost by using chicken manure to increase its fertility.
Clearing the land
Once you have purchased your land, you will need to clear it.
Clearing of land includes removal of trees, brush, stumps and stones amongst other obstacles. This is necessary to increase the area of the land base for producing crop, or to make your land suitable for plantain farming operation.
Depending on your budget, available equipment and the location of your plantain farm, you can go for either manual or mechanised clearing.
Prepping the land
Once the land for your banana farm is cleared, you will need to take certain steps for making the land suitable for growing banana. This is necessary for creating the right soil conditions for a healthy growth of these young plants, and to ensure that your banana plantation is successful in the long run.
Land preparation should be done long before you start the process of transplantation of the plant suckers. Although this step may require significant efforts and investment, you cannot skip it, or you will have an unsuccessful harvest, which will set back your plans of owning a successful plantain farm.
Prepping the land will also enable you to structure and plan your farming operational processes and procedures.
The areas that you must consider are:
The availability as well as the quality of water for irrigation that you have
Mechanical actions that will need to be implemented and how they will be implemented
Selection of land
Any chemical requirements for improving the soil before transplantation
Equipment and tools that will be required for the cultivation of plantain
Labor and manpower requirements
Purchasing Banana Suckers
Banana are propagated vegetatively, from corms, which are underground bulbs or rhizomes or from suckers, which are shoots that grow from the bud that is at the plant base.
Since the use of the entire corm is quite laborious, the more common method is to grow those using small corms. The mother plant makes three kinds of plantain suckers, namely sword suckers, maidenheads and water suckers.
Sword suckers come with a short pseudostem and have narrow leaves, similar to blades, along with a narrow base. When they mature, they have fruitful and healthy pseudostems.
Maidenheads come with a pseudostem that is large and does not produce any fruit; white water suckers have broad leaves with short pseudostems.
Water suckers do not have a strong attachment to the rhizome, and produce less fruit with weaker plants. They are less preferred in comparison to large sword suckers and maidenheads.
It is essential that you purchase suckers only from a farm that is reputable and trusted. There is no fixed price for these, a conventional sucker can cost anywhere around N50 to N100, while a hybrid will cost around N120 to N200. This price may again, vary depending on where you procure it.
It is essential that before you begin your banana plantation, you eliminate any grass or weed competition. To prevent any re-growing of weed, you can use mulching.
However, for turf grass, you will need to either use herbicides or go by the hoeing technique. If you are planning to plant for producing fruit, there should be a space of at least 8-10 feet in between. Irrigation needs to be applied at regular intervals to keep the soil moist. Ensure that there is no standing water since plantains are not tolerant to wet conditions.
In-organic and organic fertilization
After planting, you will need to manure them using a combination of household waste, poultry manure and wood ash for improving the growth and yield of plantains. It will also help to reduce the infestation by nematodes and borer weevils.
Organic manure helps maintain the temperature of the soil, conserve its moisture content and help regulate soil acidity. This will help you make the most of your efforts for plantain farming in Nigeria.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Panama disease is caused by a fusarium soil fungus which enters the plants through the roots and travels with water into the trunk and leaves, producing gels and gums that cut off the flow of water and nutrients, causing the plant to wilt, and exposing the rest of the plant to lethal amounts of sunlight.
Tropical race 4
Tropical race 4 (TR4) is a reinvigorated strain of Panama disease first discovered in 1993. This virulent form of fusarium wilt has wiped out Cavendish in several southeast Asian countries. It has yet to reach the Americas; however, soil fungi can easily be carried on boots, clothing, or tools.
Black sigatoka is a fungal leaf spot disease first observed in Fiji in 1963 or 1964. Black Sigatoka (also known as black leaf streak) has spread to banana plantations throughout the tropics from infected banana leaves that were used as packing material. It affects all main cultivars of bananas and plantains impeding photosynthesis by blackening parts of the leaves, eventually killing the entire leaf. Starved for energy, fruit production falls by 50% or more, and the bananas that do grow ripen prematurely, making them unsuitable for export.
Banana bunchy top virus
Banana bunchy top virus (BBTV) jumps from plant to plant using aphids. It stunts leaves, resulting in a “bunched” appearance. Generally, an infected plant does not produce fruit, although mild strains exist which allow some production. These mild strains are often mistaken for malnourishment, or a disease other than BBTV. There is no cure; however, its effect can be minimized by planting only tissue-cultured plants (in vitro propagation), controlling aphids, and immediately removing and destroying infected plants.
Banana bacterial wilt
Banana bacterial wilt (BBW) is a bacterial disease caused by Xanthomonascampestrispv. musacearum. After being originally identified on a close relative of bananas, Enseteventricosum, in Ethiopia in the 1960s, BBW occurred in Uganda in 2001 affecting all banana cultivars. Since then BBW has been diagnosed in Central and East Africa including the banana growing regions of Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, and Uganda.
Banana trees produce large bunches of heavy fruit, which may cause the tree to slump or droop. If you find that your plantain tree is struggling to stand up due to the weight, use string and bamboo poles to tie and prop the tree. Upon fruiting, banana are typically ready for harvest within 6 to 8 months.