Bananas

INTRODUCTION

The ancestors of the commercial bananas originated from the Malaysian Peninsula, New Guinea and South-East Asia. Bananas are perennial tropical plants whose fruits are used both for cooking (plantains) and as table fruits (ripe). They may also be processed into starch, chips, purée, beer (in Africa), vinegar, or may be dehydrated and sold as dried fruit. Flour is produced from both plantains and table bananas, which can then be used in soups, baking or as a drink. The flowers can be used as a vegetable, but they have to be heated briefly in salty water to remove the bitterness. The fresh leaves have a high content of protein and cattle and chicken like them because of their taste. The leaves are also used as packing material and for roofing. Together with the stem (pseudo-stem) it also offers an excellent mulching material. Bananas can also be planted as a windbreak to a vegetable garden. Bananas are a staple food in many of the lower altitude, wetter areas of East Africa. They are mostly grown as a subsistence crop, although there is much internal and regional trading.

PRODUCTION

Varieties Lactan Giant, Cavendish, Valery, Paz, Dwarf, Cavendish, Kisigame, Bogoya, Sukuri, Mutahato
Seed Rate III, III, 625
Fertilizer Rate 150gm/Hole DAP at planting time125mlgm/stool CAN of top-dress
Planting Spacing 3m x 3m short varieties and 4mx4m tall varieties. Plant population of 2500 plants/ha
Husbandry Bananas are propagated by vegetative means. There are several types of vegetative planting material. Selection is done according to availability, required amounts and transport possibilities. Smallholders propagate banana mostly by corms / rhizomes and suckers. Banana plants are also propagated through tissue culture. Tissue culture bananas 200-300 mm high at planting and have at least 5 healthy dark leaves and wider internodes at time of transplanting. Planting holes should be at least 0.6 m deep and 0.6 m in diameter and should be filled with topsoil mixed with organic manure. In areas with marginal rainfall larger holes of about 1.5 m in diameter and 1 m are recommended. The most suitable planting period is towards the end of the dry season, or at the beginning of the rainy season. Around 4-6 weeks after the bananas and additional crops have been planted, a primary selective weeding should be done. Frequent shallow weeding is required until the plants shade out weeds. Surplus shoots need to be regularly cut away from the planted bananas. A common practice is to allow 1 flowering or fruiting stem and 2 to 3 suckers of different size for continuous banana production.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Nematodes 

 

Yellowing, stunted growth 

 

Trim all roots before plantingPlant with furdan or carbofuran

Plant healthy suckers

Banana Weevils White grubsBurrow inside stem.

Stunted small bunches

Plant with furadan, destroy infected plants.
Panama Disease Plant wilts Chop harvested stems into small strips for mulchingDestroying infected plants.  Plant healthy suckers
Expected Duration from Planting to Harvesting From 4 months for tissue bananas to 2 years for very young suckers.
Climatic Conditions They grow in alluvial and volcanic soils, as well as in river deltas and forest perimeters, where the soil is rich in organic matter. Bananas grow well in fairly hot and humid areas and within an altitude of 0-1800 m above sea level. Rainfall of at least 1000 mm per year is necessary. The optimum for growth is about 27°C. The best soil for bananas is a deep, friable loam with good drainage and aeration and optimun pH is between 6 and 7.5.
Harvesting Harvesting banana bunches is usually spread evenly throughout the whole year. The fingers are considered mature for harvesting when they are ¾ round (75% maturity) and still green. Bunches are harvested by cutting them away from the plant just above where the fruit begins.
Post Harvest and Storage Harvested bunches should be kept in the shade. It is advisable to handle and transport banana hands rather than the whole bunches because this reduces physical damage. Bunches are dehanded and the hands are deflowered, washed, sorted and packed in carton boxes. Storage life of matured green bananas ranges from 21 to 30 days at 13-15°C.
Growing Regions Central Kenya, Kisii, Meru and Embu
Expected yields Up to 40 Ton/ha (2000 bunches)

PROCESSING

Processing Bananas can be dried or processed in chips or crisps. They can also be processed in Beer or wine or dried and made into floor.

MARKETING

Place Sold locally
Price Kshs 200 – 900 per bunch

CONSUMPTION

Products / Use Flour, Starch, Chips, Beer, vinegar, Dried fruit
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Energy 89.0 / 4%; Carbohydrates 22.8 / 8%; Pottasium  358 / 10%; Vitamin C 8.7 / 15%; Vitamin B 0.4 / 18%.

FACTS & FIGURES

BUSINESS CASE

Income Per Hectare: Kshs 400,000 (2,000 bunches * 200/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 120,000 (30% of Income).

NET:    Kshs. 280,000 (60% of Income).

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 600 bunches per hectare.

Income Frequency: Spread throughout the year.




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