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Cigar end rot disease in Bananas

Cigar end rot is a disease that can ruin your banana farming venture. It is prevalent in almost all banana growing tracts. It affects the developing fingers which results in the tip ends of the fingers drying up. The ends resemble the greying ash of a cigar. Affected fingers are rejected in the market and hence can result in huge losses. It is therefore important to control the disease before its too late. The fungal disease can also attack ripening banana fruits making a dry rot to develop at the flower ends. During transportation or storage, cigar end rot can progress to the entire fruit. This disease is common when there is high rainfall.

Disease Cycle of Cigar end rot

The pathogen gets into the banana finger through the flower resulting in the formation of a dry rot that spreads to immature banana fingers. Fungal spores/ conidia are spread by air currents and the days mainly occur in the early days of fruit formation. The infection spreads slowly as the fruit develops leading to skin blackening. With time, the tips of the infected fingers are fully covered with a powdery mass of spores. Cigar end rot is common in plantations with excessive shade and high altitude areas with moist conditions.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Presence of black necrosis which spreads from the perianth to the tip of immature fingers.
  • Dry rot develops on the pulp of the infected banana fruit. At times, the rot can spread even up to 2 centimeters from the tip of the fingers.
  • The wrinkled necrotic tissue eventually becomes completely covered with the mycelia of the fungi.
  • The entire finger can get rotten especially when the emerging fingers are affected.

Etiology

  • The formed fungal spores are hyaline, oblong to cylindrical. These spores are mostly in small groups.
  • Since they are asexual spores, conidia are borne at the ends of tapering phialides.
  • The dormant mycelia are the primary source of inoculum while air and soil-borne conidia are the secondary sources of inoculum.
    Epidemiology
  • High humidity ranging from 90-92%, high rainfall and low temperatures, and weak plants provide an ideal environment for disease development.

Management of Cigar end Rot Disease

  • Farmers should use healthy and disease-free and resistant plants.
  • Filed sanitation should be maintained at all times. Since the disease is carried by an alternate host, all potential hosts of the fungus should be removed from the banana plantation immediately. Dead, hanging leaves should be removed from the plants to lower the inoculum level.
  • Once the fruits have been formed, the perianth and pistil should be removed immediately. Infected fingers should be removed and destroyed.
  • Enough aeration should be ensured in the plantation by minimizing the overcrowding of the banana plants.
  • Polythene sleeves should be placed over the stems before the fingers emerge.
  • Maturing stems should be constantly bagged.
  • The bunches should be sprayed with copper fungicides to prevent disease formation.
  • To minimize the chances of post-harvest infestation, ripening room and packing stations should be kept clean.

If controlled, cigar end rot can result in huge losses. Over the past few years, the occurrence of the disease has increased simply because farmers are unable to employ proper management techniques. Healthy and disease-resistant varieties are what anyone should consider planting.

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Propagation, planting, care and harvesting of Bananas

Banana cultivation is one of the most popular fruit as it grows all-round the year irrespective of other fruits, which are usually seasonal in nature. Fertile soil is important for its cultivation, so it is best grown in volcanic and alluvial soils. Bananas are rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and vitamin C.

The other nutrients found in the fruit are vitamin B6, protein, dietary fiber, riboflavin, niacin, iron, etc. This fruit is good for heart health as it protects against the blood pressure fluctuations because of its potassium content.

It also helps in treating depression as magnesium helps in relaxation of muscles and Vitamin B6 helps to sleep well. Other advantageous benefits of banana consumption include weight loss, vision improvement, improvement of digestion, stronger bones, etc.

Propagation and Planting of Bananas

Young banana plants

Banana is propagated through tissue cultures which are developed in the laboratories and these yield highly and suckers developed by rhizomes and may take a year to form a fully mature banana.

Two types of suckers develop on banana plants, but only one type works well to produce a new plant. When leaves begin to appear on the suckers, look for the one that develop straight, thin leaves initially instead of the one that develop broad leaves. Choosing straight thin leaved sucker over broad leaved suckers produces both thicker pseudo stems and larger fruit yields.

The recommended banana spacing is 3m by 3m.The hole dug should be 3ft by 3ft. Mix 1 bucket of manure with the top soil removed and fill the hole again with the mixture.

Plant the sucker right at the middle of the hole. Irrigation is necessary for the young sucker to enhance its survival. Do not plant when it has over rained or when the winter is severe. Bananas require a lot of water but when drainage is poor they are prone to rotting.

Strawberries Farming in Kenya

Care and Maintenance of Bananas

Bananas are associated with or require little care for them to reach full maturity. The following basic management skills will maximize production of the plant.

  1. Fertilize with a balanced compound fertilizer after you notice the first flush of leaves and ensure it is applied some few centimeter’s away from the plant to avoid tissue burn. Bananas require a lot of potassium. The rate of application should be after every three months.
  2. A bucket of well decomposed manure should be put and should be thoroughly mixed with top soil around the plant and should be put after every six months.
  3. Weeding must be done once the weeds sprout. The field should always be clean.
  4. Mulching will ensure water is conserved.
  5. Water frequently. Ensure the soil moisture levels are at the desired levels.
  6. When the plant reaches maturity remove all the excessive suckers remaining with a single sucker that will follow its mother plant. This will even ensure uniformity while harvesting.
  7. Support the plant to avoid toppling due to weight or strong winds.

Harvesting of Bananas

harvested bananas

First the flower will form and then the fingers will come out with the flowers dangling down. The bananas will have a defined ridge when they are still young and green.as they begin to mature, the fruit will become plump and fill out into the ridges.

They turn from dark green to light green to yellow and remember not all will turn yellow but still as they ripen they are very sweet.

Harvesting can be done at the light green stage or at the yellow stage (ripening stage)

NB. To AVOID diseases like fusarium wilt, banana bract mosaic virus, banana streak disease, infectious chlorosis CMV, ensure your suckers and tissue culture bananas come from certified nurseries.

 

 

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Why You Should Invest in Vegetable and Fruit Farming

Presently, the demand for fruits and vegies from Kenya has been temperate and high for both organic and value added products. Nonetheless, Most producers and companies exporting fresh fruits and vegetables from Kenya are both small and Medium with little if any investment capacity to broaden the production and take advantage of the market demand, and therefore have been unable to explore the export of value added products currently on demand in Europe and other International markets.

A good number of the current exports have been in raw fruits and vegetables and largely to the wholesale markets where competition is growing and prices going down. Currently, there are over 30 companies exporting fresh fruits and vegetables largely to the EU and, to a less extent, to the COMESA region, although the latter is largely informal. On average, the existing companies each exports 2 – 40 tonnes of fresh fruits per week, largely to the wholesale markets in Europe.

 Competitiveness

Competitiveness in Kenya rests with soils, irrigation, climate, opportunities, government policies as well as labour factor prices. Kenya has matchless comparative advantage for growing fruits and vegetables due to its warm, less humid tropical climate, plentiful rainfall and huge opportunities for irrigation. Soils of pH 5 to 6.5 are most ideal for the fruits (such as oranges, Avocados, mangoes and pineapples) and vast areas of this type is obtained in Kenya.

These soils are rare in the world.  Kenya’s climate is summer all year round: moderate temperatures (15 -30ºC) throughout the year with a bi-modal rainfall pattern. The soils have low levels of contamination due to prolonged periods of minimal use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides creating natural quasi-organic conditions in most areas.

The November to February harvest period in Kenya coincides with the northern hemisphere winter – a period of peak demand for fresh fruits and vegetables in Europe.

How to start Kienyeji chicken farming for eggs/chicks production

Justification behind vegetable and fruit farming

There is plenty of land in the country that can be devoted to fruit farming. The government owned irrigation schemes can provide ample land. Besides there is an increasing number of out growers complimenting the raw material supply effort.  The out growers however may be supported with skills, implements. An investor in fruit farming has the option of irrigating the fruit farms to ensure all year round production.

The demand for fresh fruits on a year-round   basis is increasing, and consumers are willing to pay higher prices for out-of-season fresh fruits.  Given EU market entry barriers, Kenya would rather target domestic, border and regional markets. Currently, there is an existing trade within the region supplying Southern Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda. The current production levels of fruits are yet to satisfy the domestic, border and regional demand. It is strategic to strengthen the existing trade which is not satisfied and yet expanding.

However, we have been advising our customers on the best practices that will ensure they sell their produce in  the International markets.

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Inter-cropping and Mulching in Tissue Culture Banana Farming

You can plant short-term crops, annual crops, legumes such as beans, and groundnuts or you can plant vegetables. This is what is referred to as inter-cropping and the crop you plant is referred to as an inter-crop. These can be planted at the same time with the bananas or within days.

Always consider the Spacing

As you plant these crops, make sure the cover crop is not too close to the planting hole where tissue culture banana seedling is. Leave about a foot especially for beans, which can grow from the hole in which it was planted, entangle and suffocate the young banana seedling.

If you want to have longer term intercrops, such as coffee or pineapples, these can be planted either before or after the planting of the tissue culture garden. Whereas it is fine to intercrop bananas with a perennial crop such as coffee or pineapples or cocoa, in case you want to do this, the spacing will need to be increased accordingly from the standard (2.5m-3m).

The spacing must be increased from 3m to between 3.5m-4.5m to allow more light penetration to reach the perennial intercrop (say coffee, cocoa or pineapples) when they have established.
If the distance between different stools is too small or standard (2.5m-3m), when the bananas grow, their leaves will shade off the intercrop and it will suffer from lack of sufficient light to manufacture its own food, and to grow healthy and give good yield.

Quality hass avocado seedlings and best packages

Excellent care

Whereas it is fine to intercrop with a perennial crop, you need to do this only if your primary enterprise is the intercrop rather than bananas.

In case your primary or focus enterprise is bananas, it is advisable that inter-cropping be done  with only short-term crops, and this can be done for two seasons, after which the banana canopy (leaves) will have closed up. After the first year, your efforts should shift to mulching the plantation for better soil nutrition and health.

Like animals, bananas need excellent care if they are to give you good returns—thus, you will need to invest in mulching your plantation—I mean thorough mulching.

Need nutrients

Mulching has several purposes: controls weed growth, protects the soil against heavy rainfall and intensive sunshine, prevents erosion in plantations on steep slopes, provides organic matter to the soil, stimulates root development, improves soil drainage, cools the soil, increases soil porosity (water and air penetration), and supports abundance of beneficial soil organisms such as earth worms and some useful fungi and bacteria, thereby improving overall soil health.

Bananas are heavy feeders and need a lot soil nutrients and water if they are to yield well. Thus, mulching helps in providing these soil nutrient and water requirements.

Due to high cost of buying and transporting mulching materials, it is important to use grass cleared during field preparation; use materials obtained from the intercrop; materials obtained from the plantation itself such as leaves, pseudo stem, corms; use organic matter near the plantation such as chicken droppings, pig and cow dung if you keep some animals.

Also, you can grow grasses such as elephant grass, Guatemala grass, and Kikuyu grass for your own mulch. The grass can both feed your animals as well as provide mulch for your plantation.

Not too close

Irrespective of the good roles of mulching, it is known to facilitate multiplication of pests and spread of some soil born diseases of bananas. It also encourages roots to grow upwards from the soil, resulting in hanging mats, which eventually can topple especially during stormy rains.

The phenomenon of banana plants becoming shallow rooted and hanging near the surface of the ground is called ‘high mats’. The moment it sets in, that marks the end of your enterprise as weevils will attack it too. Thus, never mulch too close to the plant itself when it has already fully established.

A young tissue culture seedling needs mulch around it, but an established banana mat does not, as its roots are already well established. Thus, always keep the mulch, and manure application away from the banana mat by about 2-3ft. The roots of the banana are long and can search for nutrients from a distance, thus do not worry that your plants will not get the nutrients.

Frequently Asked questions about Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Pros and Cons of Inter-cropping

Advantages of inter-cropping

  1. The enterprise starts giving early returns before the bananas start yielding and start giving returns.
    2. Weed control in a newly established plantation is easier as you kill two birds with one stone, that is weed the beans and the banana plantation too.
    3. The soil is protected against soil erosion, cover crop is used.
    4. If a legume such as beans is used, it adds nitrogen to the soil making it more fertile.
    5. If crop residues from the inter-cropping are used to mulch the crop, it improves soil nutrients and adds organic matter.

Disadvantages of Inter-cropping

  1. Soil nutrient depletion,
  2. Competition with bananas,
  3. May spread diseases and pests
  4. Damaging and injuring banana roots when digging in the garden, among others

It is, therefore, advisable that you do it only for the first year of plantation establishment, unless the inter-crop is your major enterprise.

For tissue culture banana seedlings contact us.

 

TC seedlings

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Improving banana farming in Kenya through Value Addition

In Kenya, bananas are one of the most common fruits. Banana farming is one of the most lucrative sources of income for farmers with more than 10M tons being produced in East Africa where most of them are grown by small-scale farmers.

Banana in farming in Kenya is in most cases grown in Eastern, Central, Western as well as coastal regions. The excess bananas are sold in local market for cooking or as fruits when ripe. However, farmers in Kenya continue to suffer due to poor harvest and through transportation as bananas require intensive care while transporting. However, bananas can be added value and expand their demand and value. Some of the value addition that we recommend are very simple and can be done by the farmers at the farm as they require less time and other factors of production and the profit is great. Below are some of the value additions that we recommend;

Read: Some of the best fruits to grow in Kenya

Banana flour

Farmers in Kenya, can process banana to make banana flour. The banana flour has great potential for commercialization due to its numerous uses and health benefits. The banana flour can either be fortified or used as it is to make nutritious porridge and when mixed with other flours it can make a variety of dishes such as chapati, mandazi and banana cakes.

Processing Method

  • Remove green bananas from the bunch.
  • Slice into small pieces with the peelings so as to maintain the nutrients in the peels.
  • Sun-dry on the rack, until 10% moisture content is achieved. You can test by gently pressing the cuttings.
  • Mill and sift
  • Package and store in a closed, dry place.

Banana Crisps

Bananas can be used to make crips just like we make potato crisps. If you are a farmer and you can manage to make crisps, you will smile all the way to the bank.

Processing method

  • Pill green bananas
  • Chop your bananas
  • Dipfry the chopped pieces
  • Pack and label them.

Banana Jam

Sometimes when you have a lot of bananas, they overripe and we are tempted to throe them away. This should not always happen as with the most basics of equipment; a farmer can turn his or her bananas to a sweet and enjoyable jam. Bananas with sweet taste, fine flavor and texture can be processed into excellent jam right in the farmer’s kitchen, both for domestic and commercial use.

Read: How to achieve success in a given agribusiness venture

Processing Method

  • Mash the bananas and put in a heavy saucepan with lemon juice, and honey.
  • Heat the mixture until it simmers over medium heat and then turn to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.
  • Turn off the heat and let it cool until it is cool enough to taste.
  • Let the jam cool completely to room temperature – it will thicken up as it cools.
  • Package and store in the fridge for a week or less.

As a farmer, you can experiment with various flavours like vanilla, cloves or cinnamon depending on the tastes of your customers.

Banana Juice

It can be hot sometimes in Kenya and we all enjoy fruit juices. However, getting a fruit juice that is fresh and free from chemicals is hard. Banana juice/smooth can be very tasty, refreshing as well as healthy.

Processing Method

  • Put ripe sweet bananas into a blender.
  • Add milk.
  • Cover blender and run it on low for 10 seconds.
  • Put orange juice into a small bowl or a cup.
  • Add honey to the cup.
  • Stir to mix them well.
  • Add the honey mixture to the blender.
  • Cover the blender and run it on low for 30 seconds.
  • Package and store the juice in dry cool place

Bananas can also be used with other products to make sweets, biscuits, wine, beer as well as sauce. By so doing, farmers can earn more money and satisfy different tastes of consumers who do not like eating raw bananas.  To improve their bargaining power farmers should be organized into grower’s associations. Establishing factories to process bananas into various products; improvement of infrastructure to ease transportation of bananas. There is also need for government and other shareholders to help farmers with knowledge and finances and empower them in this world of bananas agribusiness.

Read: How to write a business plan for your agribusiness venture/dairy farming/horticultural farming

Don’t just grow bananas, value add them!.

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Some of the best fruits to grow in Kenya

The world loves fruits. Fruit farming is a great contributor of our economy, contributing to the food basket. Below are few of the fruits that you can grow both for home consumption or for commercial purposes.

Banana Farming in Kenya

In Kenya, bananas are favorite fruits among many families. It is almost impossible to find a home that doesn’t grow bananas. In some parts like Kisii and Nyamira, it’s almost a main dish. Bananas should be grown in rich soil with plenty of water, shade and support, as their trunks tend to bend. There are different types of bananas in Kenya; hybrid and local.  A banana tree takes about 9 months to grow, and bananas meant for commercial purposes are harvested before ripening to reduce damage and loss during transportation.

Apple Farming in Kenya

There are two major types of apples grown in Kenya, the green one and the red ones. Apples grow best in full sunlight away from wind, in wet loamy or sandy soil. From the time it’s grown, an apple tree can take an average 2 – 4 or 2 – 6 years to bear fruit and can live for 100 years or more.

Read: Get Over Ksh 700,000 from an acre of Hybrid onions in Kenya

Mango Farming in Kenya

Mangoes are succulent fruits grown in places with plenty of sun and water. There are different types of mangoes grown in Kenya. One should do research to know which mangoes will grow best in the area they are in. A mango tree can take 3 – 5 years to mature and bear fruit if grafted and upto 8 years if not grafted. Like bananas, mangoes are harvested before they are ripe reduce damage and loss during transportation. Learn more about mango farming here

Orange Farming in Kenya

Oranges are very popular in the Kenyan market. They are found everywhere; in markets, supermarkets, kiosks and the likes. There are different types of oranges, some of them may not be too sweet. Identifying the type of orange tree is not a difficult task though. The sweetest oranges have a deep orange skin. Oranges take about 3 years to grow and produce fruit if grafted, if not, they may take up to 15 years! They, just like pineapples, require high temperatures to produce sweet fruit. Learn more about Orange farming in kenya here

Hass Avocado Farming in Kenya

Hass avocado at Mkulima Wa Nyeri Farm

In kenya, hass avocado farming is picking momentum. Avocados are widely used in Kenyan homes. They are used as baby feed, mashed and mixed in food (some people cannot stand this), or used as dessert in homes and hotels as well. There are quite a number of avocado types grown all over the country. Avocados take about 3 years to grow and bear fruit. They grow best in warm weather. They must be harvested before they ripen in order to reduce wastage during transportation. Learn more about hass avocado farming here

Read: How to achieve success in a given agribusiness venture

Pawpaw Farming in Kenya

Pawapaw farming is very sensitive but pawpaw are always in demand in kenya. Unlike other sweet fruits, pawpaws are extremely sensitive to sunlight which can kill them. They need plenty of shade during their first year of growing. A grafted paw paw tree can start bearing fruit in 2 -3 years, while a non-grafted tree can take up to eight years! This of course depends on the quality of the seeds used. Learn more about pawpaw farming here

 

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WHAT FARMERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TISSUE-CULTURE BANANAS

Thanks to increasing demand and enticing market costs, banana farming is gaining momentum. till recently, use of standard suckers as planting material has been the sole choice in banana farming. This methodology is most popular by several farmers. As a result, it needs less inputs and therefore the suckers are often planted forthwith within the field. However, the most plight with this sort of planting system is that the bananas simply suffer from pests and diseases like wilt disease, Sigatoka and microorganism Xanthomonas wilt (BXW).

Banana weevils and nematodes also are common in crops planted from suckers. moreover, virus like banana streak and clustered high sickness also are unfold through suckers. Given these inadequacies, the standard banana farming ends up in high mortality rates within the field. If they establish, they take long to mature and therefore the yield is often low. To deal with this downside, tissue-culture bananas are introduced.

Tissue-culture technique, well-known as micro-propagation, permits multiplication of uniform and top-quality plant clones since they inherit the properties of the parent plant physically and genetically. Through this method, additional saplings are made inside a brief time while not the method of pollination. As a result, healthy, virus-free and uniform seedlings are made. however most of the people mistake tissue-culture for genetically changed product.

 

Development of tissue-culture bananas

Oxfarm seedlings
Banana-Tissue-Culture farming in Kenya

Tissue-culture plantlets are made below sterile conditions in an exceedingly laboratory for a few weeks. The plantlets are then hardened in an exceedingly greenhouse for 6 weeks. Notably, tissue culture races the multiplication method considerably and up to two thousand. Healthy bananas are often made from one shoot through this methodology. standard bananas, on the opposite hand, manufacture ten suckers in six months.

Similarly, tissue-culture bananas manufacture fruits in 340 days as compared to 420 days for normal bananas. The common hectare yield for tissue-culture bananas is 30-40 tons, doubly the yield for ancient breeds. Uniform growth and virtually synchronized maturity can facilitate correct management of harvests, improve quality of the merchandise and facilitate estimate a stronger output price.

Production and Market of Tissue-Culture Banana

Production and selling of tissue-culture bananas are so additional economical. To reap full edges from the tissue-culture technique, a farmer should have giant quantities of unpolluted and superior planting material, promote smart farm hygiene practices through correct management of the crop. This can decrease the yield losses thanks to pests and diseases.

Further benefits accruing from the prevalence of the planting TC banana is its early mature and maturing amount, larger bunch weights and the next annual yield per unit of land. Standard planting materials carry pests and diseases from the mother plant. However, there are means that to scale back cuss load before planting.

Tissue-culture plantlets, on the opposite hand, are free from pests, plant and most microorganism pathogens. If they need been properly indexed, they ought to even be freed from viruses. However, they’re simply infected with pests and diseases if transplanted in troubled soils.

Tissue-culture plantlets are dearer than standard planting materials and will not be promptly accessible, as several counties don’t have the facilities to supply them. Moreover, the number of cultivars sold-out by the laboratories is mostly restricted. Tissue-culture plantlets conjointly need acceptable management practices right when being transplanted to the sphere.

Growing Tissue-Culture Bananas

The farm must have the correct conditions for the expansion of bananas, that act from associate altitude of one, 800 meters higher than water level and a minimum rain of 1000mm per annum, that is especially essential throughout flowering. Farmers in low rain areas ought to make sure that irrigation is completed throughout. Soils ought to be fertile and well drained to avoid water work.

Farmers will get these plantlets from licensed nurseries half a month before planting, pits of 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet ought to be ready.  Dirt ought to be separated and well rotten manure mixed with the soil, fertilizer and therefore the suggested nematicide. The banana hole ought to be stuffed with the mixture, and therefore the plantlets planted 30cm deep within the hole.

The soil ought to then be firmed. Dry mulches ought to be put to retain wet whereas significant banana stems ought to be supported to avoid injury. Recent pathological leaves ought to be removed because of de-leafing ensuring healthy growth. Harvesting begins when 15-18 months, and a light-weight shiny look means the banana is prepared for harvest.

Harvesting ought to be delicate to avoid bruising of the bananas. The fruit ought to be quickly hold on in an exceedingly cool, dry place wrapped in banana leaves or grass to avoid bruising. If for export, they ought to be washed employing a disinfectant and branded. it’s apparent that tissue-culture bananas have several benefits over standard suckers. However, there are hurdles that limit widespread uptake and best use of tissue-culture technology among granger farmers.

Related Content: Make money through passion fruit farming

 

Distribution of Tissue-Culture bananas

Distribution systems of tissue-culture plantlets to farmers is one key obstacle. Plantlets are typically distributed in giant quantities at supported costs by varied development partners, however this is often not property within the long-term. Tissue-culture plantlets are fragile, and their thriving depends on smart management by nursery operators and farmers, particularly within the early stages. To add it up, Kenya’s comparatively stable economy and every year spherical season holds nice potential for the native and export markets.

Tissue-culture bananas will facilitate increase production of this in style fruit. solely four per cent of banana exports originate from continent whereas the rest of the plantlets is big within the continent. This inequality may be a wonderful chance for farmers to produce their fruits to greater markets.

Also Read: GOOD RETURNS THROUGH HASS AVOCADO FARMING

Contact our offices for more information.

 

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Why Modern Farmers Are Growing Tissue-Culture Banana In Kenya

Bananas are one of the most popular fruits on earth. In Kenya, the fruit is expansively cultivated for income generation and as a staple food by various local communities. However, the main predicament with banana farming in Kenya is that they are easily affected by diseases that reduce the yield and lead to sustenance and profit loss to the farmer.

Diseases and pests that affect banana farming in Kenya include Fusarium Wilt and Sigatoka, weevils and nematodes, and bacterial infections such as bacterial Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). Additionally, viruses such as banana streak and banana bunchy top disease cause diseases to bananas.
To advance economic development and agriculture in Kenya, it is important to take on farming technologies that involve providing planting materials that are disease free, mature faster, have better yield, and are safe for human consumption. Tissue culture bananas grow faster and give higher yields as compared to traditional bananas and meet the above-mentioned requirements. Tissue culture technique involves generating plants from stems, leaves or roots in sterilized conditions and can be produced in plentiful quantities.

The distribution of TC bananas plant lets that are virus indexed is available at nurseries. The technique is also beneficial in helping plants such as bananas that do not generate seeds to reproduce. As earlier mentioned, prevalent viral diseases affect banana farming, and Tissue culture is being used by Kenyan researchers to produce disease resistant materials. The cultured plants are genetically uniform, high-yielding and are free from diseases. This directly improves the economic benefit per unit area of land.

In the late 90’s, with the introduction of TC bananas, research institutes were the only source of TC bananas and there was no stable supply in the country. This limited supply made TC banana plantlets too expensive which made farmers stick to getting suckers from the parent plant to propagate the crop.

Intervention by AH and Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) has made banana farming so popular that the government launched the National Banana Development Strategy to see the growth of the industry. Income from TC bananas is even expected to reach 30 billion in 2020 if it extends to all the areas within
prospective.

Development of Tissue Culture bananas

After generation under sterile conditions in a laboratory for some weeks, the banana plantlets are hardened in a greenhouse for six weeks. Notably, tissue culture speeds up the multiplication process drastically and up to 2000 healthy bananas can be produced from a single shoot through the method. Conventional bananas, on the other hand, produce ten suckers in 6 months. Also, TC bananas produce fruits in 340 days as compared to 420 days for ordinary bananas. Additionally, the average hectare yield for TC bananas is 30-40 tones that are twice the yield for traditional breeds.

How to grow TC bananas
The farm must have the right conditions for the growth of bananas.

  • Bananas do well from a sea level of 1800M with a minimum rainfall of 1000m per year which is pertinent during flowering. Farmers in low rainfall areas should ensure that irrigation is done throughout.
  •  Soils should be fertile and well drained to avoid water logging. After these conditions are met, the farmer should get the plantlets from any ATL nursery or through Oxfarm Organic Ltd.
  • Half a month before planting, pits measuring 3feet x 3feet x3feet should be prepared.
  • Subsoil and topsoil should be separated, and then 40 kg of well rotten manure should be mixed with the topsoil along with 200g of fertilizer and 15g of the recommended nematicide.
  • The banana hole should be filled with the mixture, and the plantlets should be planted 30 cm deep in the whole, and the soil should then be firmed. For crops under irrigation, 40 litres should be used initially then 20 litres, three times a week.
  • Dry mulches should be used to retain moisture while heavy banana stems should be supported to avoid damage. Old diseased leaves should be removed while de-leafing is important to ensure healthy growth.
  • Harvesting begins after 15-18 months, and a light shiny appearance means that the banana is ready for harvest. Harvesting should be delicate to avoid bruising of the bananas. The bananas should be temporarily stored in a cool, dry place and should be wrapped in banana leaves or grass to avoid bruising.
  • If for export, they should be washed using a disinfectant and might require branding.

 

Oxfarm Tissue culture Banana seedlings

TC Main Varieties
i) FHIA 17
The taste is very like matoke and it has been quickly accepted as a cooking variety and secondary as a dessert type. With its high resistance to diseases, infestations and a lower cost of production as compared to local varieties, FHIA 17 is one of the most famous TC varieties.
Attributes Of The FHIA 17 Variety

  • The plant has a high level of resistance to Black Sigatoka disease
  • A strong root system makes it withstand winds of moderate speed
  • Large bunch sizes as compared to local varieties
  • The plant grows well in most soils
  • Tolerant to borer weevil

      Why Agro Processers and consumers prefer it

  • Easy to peel and oozes very little latex
  • The fruit cooks very easily
  • Has a good texture and flavor when it is boiled
  • Excellent for Agro processors (banana chips)
  1. ii) GRAND NAINE
    Characteristics
  • It is a high yielding Cavendish variety.
  • The plant grows to a height of 6.5 to 7.5 Feet.
  • The bunches can be harvested within eleven to twelve months from the date of planting the tissue culture plants
  • Each bunch will be having 10 to 12 hands with 175 to 225 number of fruits.
  • The fruits of Grand Nain Banana variety are delicious to eat and keeping quality of the fruit is high compared to native varieties.
  • Have long cylindrical fruits, with less curvature.
  • Attractive yellowish green color at maturity
  • It is internationally acceptable, both as fresh fruit and in processed form.
  • The pulp to peel ratio is more and highly suitable for processing.
  1. ii) William Variety

Characteristics

  • The pseudostem of Williams has dark brown, black or red streaks.
  • The rachis is only partly instead of fully clothed, with a long naked section of rachis and a crowded cluster of leaf-like bracts right above the male bud and very small neutral flowers just below the fruit.
  • The color of the bract internal face is yellowish. Male flowers are whitish with yellow tips.
  • Fruits are 15-23 cm long, slightly curved, and about 5 times as long as broad.
  • Their apex is more bottlenecked than for other Cavendish clones, especially before full maturity. Like other
  • Cavendish, they have a tuft of dead floral relicts at the tip.

Also Read;Fruit Grafting Provides Better varieties

Reaction to pests and diseases

  • ‘Williams’ is highly susceptible to black leaf streak and to Mycosphaerella leaf speckle.
  • It is resistant to Fusarium wilt race 1, but susceptible to race 4.
  • It was found to be susceptible to Radopholus similis.
  • ‘Williams’ is susceptible to Banana bunchy top virus.
  • Fruits are less susceptible to cigar end rot.

Reaction to abiotic stress

  • Williams’ has good tolerance to wind.
  • While it is not especially cold tolerant, ‘Williams’ can grow in cooler environments.
  • Low temperatures can induce choking in ‘Williams’.
  • Williams seems less sensitive to water stress than ‘Grande Naine.

 

Posted on

You Love Bananas? Scientists Say You Should Prepare to Live Without Them

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The banana has become central to so many breakfasts.

It’s also often seen at lunches.

And who could forget Tiger Woods in his heyday scoffing bananas on the golf course for energy?

Bananas are substantial. They’re supposed to be good for you, even if some nutritionists think they’re something of a sugar-bomb.

Now there’s a problem. Bananas are dying.

As the Washington Post reports, a banana-attacking fungus called Fusarium Wilt has been assaulting the bananas with which you’re most familiar.

They’re called Cavendish bananas.

And across Southeast Asia and Australia, Fusarium Wilt has been wafting its murderous way along, taking bite after deadly bite.

Worse, experts say that it’s now been spotted in Africa and the Middle East.

Even worse than that, it seems only a matter of time before it ends up in Latin America, the biggest source of bananas for the U.S.

The thing about Fusarium Wilt is that it appears somewhat impervious to pesticides. It’s so insidious that, just like the bad guy at the end of movies, it can pretend to be dead and then suddenly get up and start killing again.

Naturally, scientists are getting together and trying to create genetically modified versions of the Cavendish that can defy Fusarium Wilt’s venom.

It’s easy to panic. Our whole world is set up that way these days.

Indeed, the Post offers these shuddering words: “Scientists say we could be looking at a future where bananas all but disappear from store shelves.”

There is, though, a healthy irony in all this. It seems that the banana industry has shown very little interest in sponsoring research of any kind. Which means there are very few scientists working to fight against the banana’s extinction.

For we ordinary humans, though, what could we replace the banana with?

It seems to have taken up such a central place in our lives. It’s brightly colored, not messy, full of potassium and pleasantly filling.

What are we going to do? Start eating edamame for breakfast? Or pomegranates?

These really are parlous times. 

 

First appeared on Inc magazine

 

 

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