Based on a cross-cutting vision between environmental protection and sustainable agriculture, AGRIPLAN BENIN’s ideology is to promote a green economy model focused on food security, environmental protection and ecotourism. From an agricultural development perspective, we have chosen to raise the cultivation of plantain as a cash crop. This choice is motivated by two main factors: the fruit product and the ecological potential of plantain derivatives.
Plantain is a well-consumed agricultural product in Benin. It is one of the most popular food crops in Africa. Its culture provides growers with year-round income. Also in urban and peri-urban areas, it is clear that its demand is growing. In the Cotonou market alone, it is valued at more than 31,000 diets sold per year. And to cope with this growing demand, many wholesalers import plantain from Nigeria in times of scarcity. This impacts its selling price.
In the off-season (most often between April and August) it costs so much that the regime has five thousand CFA. The surge in the price of plantain would be linked to a shortage caused by a production deficit in Benin due to the lack of agricultural structures for plantain production and also caused by the lack of maintenance of subsistence plantations made by farmers . In addition banana is the basis of many dishes Beninese and foreign which makes its consumption very common. From there, the need to meet the demand for strong growth.The trends in this sector are such that local producers do not produce with the intention of promoting the product, but to grow subsistence crops for their own consumption first and then for sale as a “luxury” product. At given periods, it costs between 1.800F and 5.000F / regime or even more depending on the place of purchase. The prospects are: the advent of an agricultural structure specialized in plantain production, with a strong production capacity that can demystify the product on the market and make it accessible to all.
In intensive production, one hectare of surface allows to cultivate 2500 feet of banana trees at a spacing of 2 * 2m. In less intensive production, the same area allows to cultivate 1600 feet following a spacing of 2.5 * 2.5m. And for a non intensive production, this surface allows to cultivate 1111 feet of banana tree with a spacing of 3 * 3m. The yields per hectare are therefore determined according to the mode of production chosen. In all cases, it is important to note that the crop is high yielding and can be a real source of wealth when spread over a large area. Harvests are made two to three times a year, or four times for well-structured and properly maintained plantations. Derivatives of the product The fruit can be consumed in several forms: raw or processed. Raw consumption is well known and is the first way to eat bananas throughout Africa. However, derivatives can be obtained by transformation of the fruit. Banana chips are made by hand now and we meet a little everywhere. In Nigeria and Benin, they are very popular and well consumed. Its chip markets are booming in major African capitals; because in this form the product is better preserved and can longer duration than in the raw state of the fruit which can be damaged after a few weeks. Thus, by setting up a semi-industrial plantain processing unit into chips, a growing demand market can be satisfied.Just like the fruit, the stem and the skin of banana are used to manufacture bio degradable packaging. In some countries, such as Uganda, young entrepreneurs have already succeeded in setting up techniques for the production of biodegradable plantain skin packaging. This potential, long unexploited because unknown, opens the way to a large consumer market that is packaging in Africa. A market handicapped by polyethylene bags, oil residues and non-bio degradable. This ecological alternative offered by plantain will contribute significantly to the maintenance of a healthy environment, in a world where every day tons of plastic packaging are thrown into the environment after use. Several countries of the continent are also working to encourage the use of bio-degradable packaging at the expense of oil-based packaging.In conclusion, a plantation of banana plantain offers several economic opportunities namely: the marketing of raw fruit, processing and marketing of fruit chips, processing and marketing of skins bio-degradable packaging. It is in view of this economic potential of plantain, that AGRIPLAN BENIN has chosen to make culture the workhorse in its economic model.