Plantain flour is the product of dried and milled plantain slices. It is called different names by various ethnic groups, such as “elubo agbagba” in some Yoruba-speaking areas of Nigeria where it’s normally made into dough called “amala” having being reconstituted in boiling water.
The increasing consciousness for consumption of healthy foods has been a major force propelling the demand for healthy foods like plantain flour. Plantain is rich in vitamins, such as ascorbic acid, and carotene. It is low in fat content, which makes it a delight for people suffering from cholesterol-related ailments.
Research has shown that consumption of plantain meals will bring succour to those suffering from obesity, diabetics, gallstone, coronary heart and colon cancer.
Moreso, plantain is relatively rich in protein (between 3.0 to 3.5%) compared to other fruits. So, it could be used in formulating protein supplement diets for both children and adults. The low level of sodium in plantain also makes it a ready source of raw material for formulating low sodium diets.
The potential national demand for plantain flour has been estimated to be in excess of 200,000 tonnes per annum. The current supply level is probably less than 20 percent of the estimated demand with only few companies producing on mechanised commercial scale. Popular brands of plantain flour found in the Nigerian market include: Lemmy, Inutech, Ayoola, Bil, Olu Olu, Amazing, DSC and Deluxe. The average retail price per kg of plantain flour found in and around Lagos market is N425.00.
Plantain, the only raw material for plantain flour production is available in commercial quantities in different parts of the country. Nigeria is the largest producer of plantain in West Africa. Large percentage of the cultivated plantain in Nigeria is obtained in the southern Nigeria. The major plantain belts in Nigeria are as follows: Edo, Delta, Ondo, Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Abia, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Anambra, Enugu and Lagos.
Machinery and equipment
The major machinery and equipment needed are: dryer, plantain slicer, hammer mill with cyclone, vibro sifter, soaking tanks and packaging machine.
These machines are available locally and they are locally fabricated with indigenous technology. The complete process line machinery and equipment for plantain flour production available at micro, small and medium scales are seen below:
Hammer mill with cyclone
Production of plantain flour includes the following simple unit operations:
This involves inspection of plantain fingers to identify and remove unsuitable ones i.e. spoilt, immature pulps e.t.c.
The sorted plantains are properly weighed to quantify input of the raw plantain.
The green plantain fruits are soaked in hot water for some minutes to soften the skin for easy peeling.
The plantain peels are removed manually using sharp knives to obtain the pulp.
The pulp is sliced with the aid of a mechanical slicer.
The sliced plantain is dried.
The dried plantain slices are milled in a hammer mill.
The flour is sieved to obtain the desire particle size.
The flour is packaged in moisture proof packaging material ready for sale.
A production programme for a small to medium scale plantain flour production is shown below:
Production Days/Annum – 300
Production Volume/Day – 1.5 Tonnes (Plantain flour)
Production Volume/Annum – 450 Tonnes
Projected 5- Year Production Plan
Year Quantity (Tonnes) Quantity (1Kg Packs, pcs)
1 315 315,000
2 337.5 337,500
3 360 360,000
4 382.5 382,500
5 405 405,000
Both skilled and unskilled labour necessary for the successful operation of this venture. These consist of the production, administrative/account and marketing personnel. Staff matters, finance/account, store management, security, purchasing and other administrative functions are handled by the administration/account division, while the production division takes charge of production. Marketing activities are the responsibilities of all the staff especially the marketing division staff. About 50 personnel (both technical and non-technical) are required for the project to take off.
Total initial capital investment
Initial Fixed Capital N17,665,000.00
Initial Working Capital N8,721,120.00
Pre-production Expenses N1,053,630.00
Note: The initial fixed capital includes factory building, machinery and equipment, generator, project vehicle, office furniture and equipment and bore hole.
Annual production cost estimates N’000