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Commercialization of Plantain Enterprise in Oguta



 This study examined the commercialization of plantain enterprise in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State. Data for this study was obtained from both secondary and primary sources. Primary data were obtained through the use of structured questionnaires and interview schedules administered to eighty (80) randomly selected farmers from the study area. Data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics, budgetary technique and multiple regression analysis. Results from the descriptive statistics showed that majority of the farmers were male (93.75%), and a large percentage were married (92.5%). The mean age, mean farm size and mean household size were 51.58 years, 1.1 hectares and 12 persons. The results also indicated that an average total cost of N146, 555.66//ha was incurred per annum and a total revenue of N435, 780/ha per annum was realized. This gave a profit of N289, 224.34/ha per annum. The rate of return on investment was 1.97 implying that for every one naira invested, a return of N1.97 and a profit of N0.97 were obtained. The results of the multiple regression analysis revealed that 90.4% of the variation in plantain output was explained by farm size, labour, planting materials (number of suckers) and fertilizer applied. Also, 34.7% of the variation in profit was explained by age, farming experience, household size, level of education, marital status and de-suckering. The major problems encountered by farmers were found to include inadequate finance and credit facilities, damage of plantain trees by wind and poor extension services. The study concluded that plantain farming is profitable in the study area, and as such more efforts should be put in by government to ensure increased productivity.



1.0            INTRODUCTION

1.1            Background Information

Plantain originated from South East Asia and Western pacific region (John and Marchal, 1995). It belongs to the family of “Musaceae” and of two types “Musa acuminata” (genome AA) and “Musa balbisiana” (genome BB). Plantain (Musa paradisiaca L.) is a perennial crop that takes the form of a tree as it matures. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia but its introduction into Africa is unclear. Throughout history it has provided humans with food, medicine, clothing, tools, shelter, furniture, paper and handicrafts. It could be termed the “first fruit crop” as its cultivation originated during a time when hunting and gathering was still the principal means of acquiring food (IITA, 2009).

Plantain is an important staple food for nearly 400 million people in many developing countries, especially in Africa. In the East African Highlands, consumption may be as high as 1 kilogram per person per day. In Africa, plantain and banana provide more than 25% of food energy requirement for around 70 million people (CGIAR, 2021).

The role of plantain is becoming more important with the increasing emphasis today on diets that are low in sodium but high in potassium and vitamins. High intake of sodium has always been implicated with hypertension. Plantain is a good source of potassium and it is low in sodium. It is very rich in vitamin A, highly digestible and contains fiber, blood pressure stabilizers, calcium and phosphates for healthy skin, teeth and bones. It is also one of the few fruit sources of chromium, a nutrient vital for


combating diabetes because it stimulates the metabolism of glucose (Ramcharan and George, 1999).

Plantain is usually eaten cooked unless they are very ripe. It can also be roasted to make bole, a common snack eaten by many especially in the Southern parts of Nigeria. Plantain is also dried and fried to make chips. It can also be baked and fermented to make beer and vinegar. Plantain can also be dried and made into plantain flour, which can be baked and used for eating with soup. Ripe plantain is also fried to make dodo which is loved by many especially children. Plantain provide food security and income for small-scale farmers who represent the majority of producers (CGIAR, 2021).

Global plantain production has increased by nearly 60% over the last 30 years to 37 million metric tons. Uganda is by far the largest producer with 9.6 million metric tons compared with the second largest producer, Ghana, with 3.6 million metric tons. Other important producers are Rwanda, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Colombia. Only 15% of global banana and plantain production is involved in international trade – most production is consumed domestically (CGIAR, 2021).

In Nigeria plantains and bananas are both important staple foods for rural and urban consumers and as sources of income for subsistence farm families. The near continuous availability of harvestable bunches in established plantain areas, notably small farms and socalled kitchen gardens makes it possible for plantain to contribute to an all year round food security or income generation among smallholder producers (Bifarin et al., 2010). They rank the fourth most important global food commodity after rice, wheat and maize in terms of gross value of production (INIBAP, 1992; FAO, 2001).

Plantain marketing involves the role of middlemen in passing plantain from the farms to the markets. Therefore, the roles of markets cannot be over emphasized because production centers are fragmented and mostly in small scale. It is faced by a lot of marketing problems and these problems determine whether production can be expanded. Production problems can be overcomed through introducing new production technology and efficient marketing system and this can only be realistic by understanding marketing system. As a seasonal crop with relatively short shelf life, plantain is available for a limited time and post harvest losses are high. The perishable nature of plantain makes processing a vital link in the marketing process. Researchers held that underplaying marketing in economic development left people on the platform of malnutrition as a result of over ripening of produce (Plantain) which lead to loss or waste. Plantain is a seasonal crop with relative short shelf life hence, it is available for a limited period and post harvest losses are very high.  These situations necessitate a scientific survey of its marketing system especially in areas where commercial production of plantain are not technically and economically feasible unless with irrigation.

1.2            Statement of Problem

There is an enormous potential for wealth generation through plantain farming, considering the demand that exists for this crop. Akinyemi, Aiyelaagbe and Akyeampong (2010) noted that “the demand for plantain within the country is high, with supply struggling to meet demand.” In addition, a market also exists for the export of this commodity, making it a potential foreign exchange earner. Oguta Local Government is one of the areas in Imo State with a prominence of plantain farming activities (Ekunwe and Ajayi, 2010). But these potentials are not being exploited. From the findings of Akinyemi et al (2010) majority of plantain farmers still operate on a small scale. There is a prevalence of small farm holdings and production scale is not expanded. Also, the farmers are mainly poor. Is it that plantain farming is not profitable? It is known that the goal of every business enterprise is to maximize profit; and this applies also in agricultural enterprises. When profit is maximized, the farmer has a good reward for his labour and is encouraged to continue farming and even expand his business.

The questions that arise when the potentials in plantain farming are considered vis-à- vis the fact that the farmers still operate on small-scale include: What are the socio- economic characteristics of the plantain farmers in the study area? What production systems do the farmers adopt? Are the farmers effectively utilizing their resources to achieve maximum profit? What are the costs and returns associated with plantain farming in this study area? What factors affect plantain production in the area? What effect do the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers have on commercialization of plantain enterprise in this area? These were the questions this research set out to answer.

1.3            Objectives of the Study


The general objective of the study was to assess the commercialization of plantain enterprise in Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State. The specific objectives include:

  1. to describe the socio-economic characteristics of the plantain
  2. examine the production systems of the plantain
  3. examine resource use efficiency of the plantain farmers.
  4. estimate the costs and returns associated with plantain
  5. identify the constraints facing plantain farmers in the
  6. assess the effect of socio-economic characteristics on


1.4            Research questions

  1. What are the socio-economic characteristics of the plantain producers?
  2. What are the production systems of the plantain farmers?
  3. What is resource use efficiency of the plantain farmers?
  4. What are the costs and returns associated with plantain production?
  5. What are the constraints facing plantain farmers in the area?
  6. What is the effect of socio-economic characteristics on profitability?


1.5            Justification of Study

 Few studies have been done on the commercialization of plantain enterprise in this study area, and majority of the work done so far has focused on the cost and returns without due consideration of the effect of some factors such as farming experience, age of farmers, level of education etc. on profit. This study will fill this gap in knowledge.

This study is also important considering the impact that the findings will have on not just plantain production, but also the production of other crops in this area since the factors affecting commercialization of plantain can also be applied to other crops. The results from this study will make plain the factors that are hindering the profitable operation of farm enterprises and this will be of benefit to various categories of people. For the farmers, it will help them know what areas to improve on in their farming system. They will for instance, know what practices to incorporate into the system and those to avoid. For the research institutes and government, it will create awareness on the gaps that exist in the process of agricultural development. For instance, it will enable them know if the farmers are aware of, and are using improved crop varieties and also intimate them on the problems encountered by farmers. The knowledge of farmer’s socio-economic characteristics will also shape the focus of researchers. Also, it will serve as a guide for future policies and programmes of government.

Generally, this study will help improve productivity in plantain farming with the resultant consequences of increased income for farmers, expansion in the scale of production, foreign exchange, better livelihood for rural dwellers and improvement in the national economy.


1.6            Scope of Study


This study is carried out on the commercialization of plantain. The study will focus on the profitability of farmers in Oguta, Imo state.


1.7       Limitations of the Study


The limitations encountered in this study include: financial constraints (the cost of travelling round to the study areas etc.), problem of inadequate record keeping amongst farmers which made the collection of primary data difficult, as well as difficulties in measurement and estimation.


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