Plantain is not the only food you can process into flour and make money. There is bean flour, cocoyam flour, yam flour, cassava flour, etc. For this post, though, we will focus extensively on plantain flour.
Plantain flour production and processing is one of the best businesses to venture into for many good reasons. One of such reasons being that plantain is in very high demand due to its many health advantages.
Here are some of the many advantages of starting plantain flour production business today
1. The market demand is very high
Plantain is a major food crop not only in Nigeria but in Africa and around the world. It also has many amazing health benefits. Plantain is high in fiber, rich in protein and low sodium. The demand is not high, it is monstrous!
According to statistics, Nigeria is the 5th largest producers of plantain in the world, accounting for over 9% of the global plantain production. Yet, the demand for plantain is more than the supply.
Many families now prefer plantain flour as a natural alternative for cassava because plantain flour is healthier. This means there is more market for you if you can produce high quality plantain flour.
Venturing into plantain flour production business means you will have an ever-increasing customer base its nutritional value.
Plantain flour is also very exportable which means more money for you. This is if you are thinking that local demand is not enough for you. The world is your market.
2. Raw materials are easily available
Nigeria is the 5th biggest producers of plantain in the world. This means raw materials are readily available.
Plantain growing states in Nigeria include: Delta, Edo, Enugu, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Ondo, Imo, Benue and Abia State.
You can even get a piece of land and start your own plantain plantation so that your raw materials are within your very reach.
3. Marketing the products won’t be hard
Majority of the people already know the health benefits of plantain so you won’t need to spend much to convince them to buy. You only need to produce high quality products and strategically position your brand in the market
You have to make sure they know your products exist and that they know where they can get it. You can make use of television and radio adverts to create awareness for your product.
You can also leverage on social media to promote your brand.
4. Good replacement for cassava flour
Plantain flour is also a good alternative to cassava flour in terms of health benefits. Doctors always warn their patients to consume plantain flour as healthier option to wheat and cassava flour. This is because it is rich in Vitamins A, B, C, Iron and Magnesium.
Did I mention that the demand for plantain flour is monstrous?
5. Competition is low
Lastly, another advantage of starting a plantain flour production business in Nigeria in particular is that the competition is very low. The number of companies that are into plantain flour production business are quite few.
This tells you that the market is less competitive compared to wheat flour production business. All you have to do is invest into marketing and promotion of your products so it travels far. You can use influencer-marketing as it works very well.
How to start plantain flour production
Draw up a feasibility plan
Ok, so first thing you should do is to plan your business. You need to draw a feasibility plan to know if you are prepared to run the business. Depending on your financial capacity, you need to decide your first scale of production [small-scale, medium or large-scale]
You need to know where and how to get the raw materials, what machines the production will require and which of those machines you can do without at first. For example, you can do without a peeling machine at the beginning but a hammer mill is very necessary.
You also need to know where the get the machines in the first place and what they will cost.
As a new business, you need a functional business/feasibility plan and the first thing to do while starting plantain flour production is to come up with one.
Plantain flour production process [step-by-step]
1. Sorting and weighing
First thing is, you sort the raw plantain. You need to remove the bad, immature, rotten or unsuitable ones. This should be done manually because no machine has the intelligence to make that type of human judgement (yet lol). The sorting process ensures you have only healthy plantain for production.
After sorting, you weigh the raw plantain to get the quantity of input. This information will be important when you write the nutrition analysis. It is also important during fortification and packaging.
You soak the selected plantain in hot water for a while to soften peels. Peeling strong plantains could be a tiring and painful process as any woman would tell you. Blanching makes this process easier.
3. Peeling and slicing
After blanching, you peel off the skin to get the plantain you need for processing. You can do this manually, of course, but for large-scale production you can do this with a machine which could be expensive. Beginners can do without the extra cost.
After peeling, you slice the plantain in smaller chips. Again, there is a machine for this but for beginners, you can do it manually.
After peeling and slicing, you dry the sliced plantain in preparation for milling. You can use an industrial drying machine which is more effective for commercial purposes. If you just want to make plantain flour for dinner, then you can use any of the manual drying methods available to you.
This is where you obtain the plantain flour. You need a hammer mill for this. If you can’t get it, you need to find someone who has it. I can’t think of an alternative to using a hammer mill.
6. Sieving and packaging
After milling, all that remains is to sieve the flour to get the desired fine particle sizes. You can send the larger particles back to the mill to get a uniform texture and size.
The rest is packaging. Your product is ready for consumption or sale depending on what your goal is.
As I said earlier, market for plantain flour is already there and the demand is interesting. You can introduce your product to local restaurants. You can also use any available media advertising strategies to get the word out about your product and brand.
Don’t forget social media and how it gives wider publicity at cheaper cost.