Minimal banana suckers are more profitable

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An officer from Aberdares Tissue culture firm stands beside an 85kg banana on September 17, 2016 at the Nyeri ASK Show. Maintaining the number of suckers below eight  gives farmers more money. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.

Banana farmers, who maintain less than eight suckers at a time, are more likely to harvest bunches of more than 80 kilos than those allowing every sprouting stem to grow to maturity.

Nyamira County farmer Vincent Oyaro said other farmers allow all the emerging suckers to grow, leading to overpopulation.

“Competition highly affects the quality and quantity of the bunches. It is recommended that they should be four to six. But if in excess, they should be eight suckers. The fewer the stems, the healthier the fingers, which will translate to heavy bunches,” Oyaro said.

The Ekerenyo Sub-county farmer, who is also the chairman of Rigesa Youth Group, said the removal of the suckers should be done progressively with an age difference. 

Two emerging suckers should be allowed to grow if the ‘older’ ones are about three feet. The second generation should be ‘preparing’ to flower while the third one is maturing.

The fourth set should be almost ready for harvest.

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Another benefit of allowing an inter-gap, the farmer enjoys a constant harvest of quality produce for continuous flow of income.

For varieties like William’s tissue culture, Oyaro has harvested more than 80kg per bunch, which have earned him about Sh1,200 on wholesale.

The farmer has a plantation of 250 bananas and the Rigesa Youth group supply green and ripe produce to Kisii, Kisumu, Nakurua and other major towns in Kenya.