News and knowhow for farmers

A banana variety that can yield 90kg per stem to increase yields for smallholder farmers

banana biggy

A famer who bought a South African tissue cultured plantlet from a neighbor 15 years ago has turned the single stick into a money tap by propagating more planting materials for sale.

The variety, which can give a more than 90 kilograms, is most preferred for ripening.

He sells each banana at between Sh800 and Sh1,200.

Currently farmers cultivate bananas that yield between 30 to 50kg per stem.

Peter Munga bought a sucker of Short-Kampala from an agronomist neighbor, but saw an opportunity in the many farmers who were looking for the species from this one source.

“Most traders like this type because of the short, but heavy individual fingers of the banana. Besides being sweet, it has a strong sharp yellow color that appeals to the eye of a customer,” said Munga.

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New technology cuts banana ripening time by about 10 days

Sourcing the suckers from a mature plant is time consuming and less productive as it may take two months and produce yields of less than 50kg per banana tree.

That is the reason Munga had to start using one mature plant, which he buries in soil horizontally. More than 20 plantlets spout and mature of sale in less than one month. With frequent watering twice a week and fertiliser application of 200g per sucker, he can raise more than Sh4,000 from one banana tree.

A plantlet is ready for transplanting at one and half to two feet in height.

“Some farmers get it wrong when they plant a sucker of more than four feet. I have learnt from experience in this sector that it is not no healthy. It is a disturbance because it destabilizes multiplication of cells at the more than four feet,” he said.

Short-Kampala variety can yields the first fruit after 10 months.

 In spite of being a ‘gigantic’ variety, it rarely requires staking because of its strong stem.

But if the farm is in windy areas, it is advisable to stake banana to secure it against premature falling.

‘Y’ or forked posts are the best in staking the banana trees, but then they are not available, a farmer can improvise.

Kenya produces an estimated 1.4m tonnes of bananas annually.

The Leading producers are: Meru (19 per cent), Embu (12 per cent), Taita Taveta (nine per cent), Murang’a (seven per cent), Kisii (six per cent), Tharaka Nithi (six per cent) and Bungoma (five per cent).

86 per cent of the total bananas produced are sold commercially with the rest being consumed directly according to USAID

Munga can be reached on 0712021956

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