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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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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.

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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.


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