Proper banana post-harvest packaging with its leaves can save farmers three out of 10 fruits destroyed before reaching the consumer.
Vincent Oyaro, the chairman of Rigesa Youth Group, said that during transportation, farmers may lose more than 30 per cent weight to environmental agents and breakages, more so when ferrying to far markets.
He attributes weight loss to environmental agents like strong sunlight as well as wind while cracking and bruising results from pressure when piled together.
“A banana from Kisii being taken to Mombasa, which is more than 700 km away, cannot fetch its expected cash if it is transported while exposed. Piling them together and handling during loading and unloading can cause damage of three out of 10 fingers, yet this can be avoided,” Oyaro said.
The Nyamira County group, which supplies ripe, ripening, and plantain bananas to major town in Kenya such as Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Migori, among others sets down green leaves from the fruit stem.
They ensure all fingers are covered before tying the entire banana with sisal or barks of trees.
The all-round leaves will cushion the fingers against bruises and breakages during movement. The shrinking and bruising lead to further losses due to depreciated quality of fingers, the chairman said.
“A banana that is wrapped in the leaves remains fresh for the two or three days it takes from Kisii to Diani, (Kwale County). It will only be exposed to brief weather agents for a few days while being sold,” he said.
An 80kg banana that could fetch between Sh800 and Sh1,200 can depreciate Sh600 and Sh900, depending on the town of sale if not protected.
Bananas are harvested from rural areas such as central and Nyanza regions before being transported to urban centres for ripening or plantain cooking.
Oyaro can be reached on +254710174733
PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT