» The farmers voice
Technical slip | 24 Apr 2009
Plantain production : Techniques of plantain seedling multiplication

There are both slow and fast techniques of multiplying plantain seedlings.

The false decapitation and bending over techniques usually serve as the starting point to the fast PIF technique that can produce thousands of seedlings in just two or three months.

False Decapitation
Select a good sucker from the species of plantain or bananas that you want from a plant that is doing well. Plant sucker, then in 5 to 6 months use a knife to bore a hole to destroy the inner part at the level of the stem (remember the leaves of a bananas/ plantain start right at the ground level). The upper part of the plant will automatically die enabling the stock in the ground to give many suckers. Just in two months your suckers will be ready. In this case if you have decided to have either the ‘ebanga’, ‘ngumba’ or ‘nyale’ species of plantains (species of plantains in the South West), you can make a small demonstration farm from where you will get your suckers for your propagator that is used in the PIF technique of multiplication. If you decide to plant all it is good to label so that you don’t confuse when selling the seedlings or planting your plantation. The false decapitation can give you up to 15 seedlings and you can always return to the demonstration propaga-ting farm for suckers

Bending over
After planting the sucker, use a knife to cut slightly and bend in about 5 to 6 months. The plantain will continue to grow but cannot produce. In 7 to 8 months the nutrients that are now consumed by the stock that would give you up to 15 seedlings that you take to your parent farm

Making a propagator

PIF technique
The PIF technique enables the farmer to produce thousands of plantain/bananas seedlings for sale or for huge plantations. In a very few months trained farmers can produce thousands of seedlings depending on the size of their propagator. The propagator or germinating chamber is the centre of the PIF technique

Material for constructing a propagator
- plank, 1X6=3
- scandle, 2X3=4
- transparent polythene sheets = 3
- saw dust or coffee husk = 7 bags
- poultry manure = 3 bags
- nails for plank and ceiling
- neumatocides (mocap) = 1kg
- insecticide, fungicide to sterilise and ensure that the stem is free from disease
- rubber band
- bamboo or other sticks available for the roof
- palm fronts
- bags for grounding the propagator
- polythene bags for transplanting
By Culled from a presentation by Elame Germain, sub delegate of agriculture Buea by BDS

Banana/Plantain seedling production: Multiplication by peeling the stock

“Plantain growing is a big business”,
Elame Germain, Agric Engineer, Sub Divisional Delegate, Buea

What kind of soil must a farmer plant plantain to get good yields?
The farmer needs soil that retains water because plantains need water, that’s why banana plantations here are irrigated. Local farmers may not have the means to carry out irrigation so they should look for soils that retain water, have a good humus layer and they should always improvise by incorporating animal manure to the soil to improve on the humus and texture of the soil to retain water.

Farmers complain that after a few harvests, plantains don’t do well, what’s the problem?
This is caused by nematodes and borers’ attacks which make plantains to dry off; all of these are soil pests. So, to control these pests a farmer needs to apply enamaticide twice a year. They can use MOCAP bastion and it will be good to have a permanent calendar. It is good to apply in April and again in September. If this is well followed, you will stop this effect. You know that the nematodes and borers attack plantains more, not bananas. That’s why banana stems which were cultivated by our parents long in the 50s are still surviving.

Can some body make plantain or banana farming a business in Buea?
Sure! Plantain/bananas growing is a big business in Buea. The first thing is that if you are going for mass production, you should look for a market. Here in Buea, we have a ready market; we have the Muea market which is one of the biggest markets in the sub region because buyers come from Yaounde, Douala, Equitorial Guinea, Gabon etc to buy plantains and other food stuff. Because of this the demand for plantain seedlings is very high since people have realised that it is a big business and are ready to open big plantations. The main problem here is the suckers, so even if you go only into the multiplication of plantain and bananas seedlings, you will have the market.

What are the nutritive elements in plantains that attract people?
We know that plantains contain, iron, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin C, BI and B2, it has other minerals which are very good for the body by B.D.S.

“Treat suckers with both insecticides and fungicides”,
Catherine Makaka, chief of agric post Bwinyuku, Buea

How can plantain suckers be sterilised before planting ?
After preparing your suckers, you treat them with both insecticides and fungicides. Use a sachet of any of this chemical in 15 litres of water, stir very well to avoid lumps, put the suckers already prepared for planting in the propagator for 10 minutes in the mixture. You can remove and put under a shade for 24 hours before planting.

How do you plant in the propagator ?
The concentration of the sucker in the propagator depends on the size of the suckers. The base of the sucker should be about five centimetres deep and when you put it cover again five centimetres with the sawdust.
After propagation how can a farmer plant well to have good yields ?
If you follow all the above outlined steps, then remove your suckers well from the propagator and take them to a nursery. In about six weeks, you will have good suckers that will give you good yields. This means that from the propagator to the farm you can take just about two and a half to three months to have enough seedlings.