News and knowhow for farmers

KALRO selling 45 Kg disease tolerant tissue culture banana


By George Munene

Banana is an important staple food and cash crop in Kenya with nearly 4,000 hectares (about two per cent of total arable land) being under what is the most important fruit crop in the country. However, most of the traditional cultivars are low yielders and unsuitable for commercial production.

The FHIA 17, (Kabana in Uganda) is an example of a tissue-cultured banana cultivar that can produce 135-275 bananas fingers and an entire hand that weighs up to 45 Kgs under warm and humid growing conditions.

On average, common banana varieties such as the Giant Cavendish and Gross Michel top out at 35 Kg.

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Developed by the FHIA Honduran Breeding Programme, FHIA 17, is also resistant to common banana diseases such as Panama, Black leaf streak, Fusarium wilt and Eumusae leaf spot. It is tolerant to diseases such as Sigatoka leaf spot and fungi like banana freckle disease as well as banana weevils.

FHIA 17 does best in areas with:

  • Altitude: 0-1200 m
  • Rainfall: 2000 mm/year well distributed throughout the entire year
  • Temperature: 28 °C is optimum, though it is tolerant to colder temperatures than more common Cavendish varieties
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Recommended planting density: 1600 plants/ha

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FHIA 17 takes 12 months to fully mature and harvest, and 14 months in colder regions.

When the fruits are ripe, the peel is pale yellow and its pulp is a light cream and smooth.

To get certified FHIA 17 seedlings at Sh130, contact KALRO-Practical Training Centre located off Thika-Kandara Road (0780564939).

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