Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

Supporting Farmers

Can hybrid bananas co-exist with traditional variety?

3 min read
Prof Ssettumba Mukasa

Prof Ssettumba Mukasa (C) explains how to transplant a banana seedling. Above, Farm Clinic participants walk through a well kept plantation. Photo by Alex Esagala

By Denis Bbosa
Nothing excites a teacher such as finding his students thriving on the knowledge he passed over.
That is the joy that banana expert Shedrach Muhangi habours after visiting one of the last year’s MBAZARDI Farm Clinic participants’ banana plantation that has metamorphosed into a vast potential money minting project.
“I recently visited a couple in Mbarara that attended the Farm Clinic last year and I was amazed by the way they had put best banana practices into action,” Muhangi said.
“They have planned their plantation well although they are beginner farmers, looked for the disease free planting materials, spaced well, applied manure and did mulching. I’m 90 per cent sure they are going for a bumper harvest,” he added.
New banana varieties 
The trends have shifted a bit since then and the facilitators for next month’s Farm Clinic have tailored their theory and practical sessions to dwell on the prevailing circumstances. “I’m going to put emphasis on why prospective and active banana farmers should start thinking of shifting from traditional breeds such as Nakitembe, Mpologoma, Kibuzi to the trending hybrid varieties like Kiwangazi (M9) and M23 which has just been released at Kawanda Research Institute,” Muhangi stressed.
Though the emphasis will be on hybrid banana, the expert says even the traditional varieties production will be taught and handled practically at MBAZARDI.
“Hybrid varieties can resist disease, are high yielding, drought tolerant but farmers should not quickly bin their traditional types. We are going to teach the benefits of farming together as a group, why soil infertility levels are going down, plantation management and above all how farmers can combine local and hybrid varieties to meet the market demand,” he said.
MBAZARDI has prepared three demonstration farms with the varieties of M9, mpologoma, kibuzi, rwemukyalala, ntalagaza and more for the practical sessions.
The theory session will have encompassing topics such as why farmers should go into banana production, requirements before starting, commercial varieties they should consider, pest and diseases, banana as food and cash crop and value addiction. Already the facilitators’ desks are flooding with pertinent banana production questions like remedies for low farm gate prices, middle men, declining soil fertility, handling losses while packing, limited value addition, low market prices which Muhangi says they will address to the core.
Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic
Venue: Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research And
Development Institute (MBAZARDI), Mbarara
Date: Saturday May 26, 2018
THEME: Climate Smart Farming
ENTERPRISES: Dairy, Banana, Passion fruits, Cassava, Beans, Mango and Maize
TOPICS: Seeds & varieties, Post-harvest handling, Value addition, Sustainable Land Management (SLM) & Economics

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