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Banana farmer doubles yields from information-sharing WhatsApp group

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Hitherto, Richard Kebaso used to harvest small banana heads of between 40kg to 45 kg from his one acre farm in Nyamache, Kisii County, due to poor weeding practices. Hitherto, Richard Kebaso used to harvest small banana heads of between 40kg to 45 kg from his one acre farm in Nyamache, Kisii County, due to poor weeding practices.

 However, after receiving farming tips from Kilimo Bora, a farmers group which guides small scale farmers on improving their farming skills, he now harvests about two hundred 80kg to 100 kg banana heads annually  from the same farm as better weed management practices have boosted his banana crops.

Richard who is a small scale farmer joined Kilimo Bora farmers group when it was initiated in February 2017. Kilimo Bora has created a WhatsApp group that shares information on agribusiness and best farming practices among members.

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 The group has incorporated farmers from different regions of the country who send questions on various agricultural issues. As they engage, members receive proper recommendations from experts within the group.

“Since joining Kilimo Bora, I have received proper and timely information on how to manage weeds in my banana farm in addition to getting proper advice on measurements and depth during planting” said Richard. Social media is playing a crucial role in shaping farming practices underlying the effectiveness of instant messaging in communication.

In March this year, he planted 50 suckers on his farm on a spacing of 3 by 3 meters apart. The dug holes were three by three feet in diameter and five feet deep. The plantlets developed more than 4 small banana plants each.

ripe bananas

 Richards farm produce

As soon as the weeds appeared, Richard started removing them by digging using a fork and then uprooting them using his hands to avoid disturbing the prominent established suckers. 

He also removed extra unwanted suckers as bananas grow well when only three suckers are left; a flowering, teenager and a young small emerging sucker.

Regular weeding as the weeds appeared helped Richard save on money which could otherwise have been spent on purchasing weed control herbicides.

In addition to manual weeding, Richard also planted beans between the different rows of bananas so as to reduce the ground cover for weeds.

Bananas are perennial plants and thus harvesting is all year round. Richard plans to sell each banana at between Sh150 to Sh300 in local Kisii markets and nearby towns. Bananas are generally rich in starch, and eating them can reduce chances of getting cancer or asthma, according to research

Richard Kebaso can be reached on+254 718 761014 


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