NEWS & EVENTS

Uganda and Tanzania farmers reap yield worth USD $8.15m a year from banana farming

Banana farmers in Uganda and Tanzania farmers reap a 64% increase in yields worth an extra USD $8.15m a year. This was revealed a recent annual review of the five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded ‘Improving banana agronomy practices for small scale farmers in highland banana cropping systems East Africa’ project.

Mzee Ssemambo, a farmer in Isingiro District built a permanent house (in picture) from Banana Farming earnings.

The banana agronomy project was led by the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) and implemented in partnership with the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Bioversity International, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Makerere University and CABI.

In a report made by the Project Leader, Dr. Jerome Kubiriba reveals that the project led to the 83% increase in household income and livelihoods, 64% increase in yields – from 10mt/ha/year to 19mt/ha/year and 98% of banana farmers in the targeted project areas, improved their way of farming.

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NARO to Release More Exciting Banana Hybrids Soon

Having previously released improved bananas/hybrids to the banana farming communities in Uganda, NARO’s Banana research programme is set to release more improved banana hybrids that are projected to more acceptable to banana farmers compared to the previously released ones.

NAROBan 5, the recently released improved banana variety by NARO.

According to Dr. Ivan Kabiita Arinaitwe, the head of the NARO Banana Breeding programme, these hybrids that are in advanced stages of testing were developed by NARO with its long-time collaborators, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA).  He notes that the team already has several improved banana varieties under testing in different agro-ecological zones of the country stability as well as acceptability.

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NARO's banana programme breeding bananas for the East and Central African region

With an advanced banana breeding programme, National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)’s banana programme has now started at releasing its improved banana varieties/ banana hybrids across the East and Central Africa region starting with Tanzania.

A NAROBan1 matooke, one of the banana hybrids released by NARO.

NARO has in the past released 7 improved banana varieties/ banana hybrids that have excited banana farmers in Uganda due to their good attributes. 

These banana hybrids include Kabana 6H, Kabana 7H released in 2010 in collaboration with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and then went on to release NAROBan 1, NAROBan 2, NAROBan 3, NAROBan 4 in 2017 and NAROBan 5 in 2018. 

These hybrids address key challenges faced by banana farmers in Uganda such as the short plantation life cycle of about 4 years as opposed to more than 20 years and low yields. 

According to Dr. Ivan Kabiita Arinaitwe, the head of the NARO Banana Breeding programme, short plantation life cycle is attributed mainly the pests and diseases affecting bananas whereas, low yields are attributed to inferior local varieties, abiotic stresses (declining soil fertility, climate change and poor agronomic practises) and biotic stresses (pests and diseases).  

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NARO develops a product profile to enable release of hybrids that meet farmer expectations

The breeding team at National Banana Research Program is developing a product profile to enable release of banana hybrids that precisely meet farmer expectations.

A happy banana farmer appreciating his produce.

According to Dr. Ivan Kabiita Arinaitwe, the head of the NARO Banana Breeding programme, this product profile will help release banana hybrids that precisely meet the farmer expectations. “These hybrids will be having added value from the previously released ones.”

Being guided by the product profile in breeding, he says the team is now able to determine the hybrids that are more acceptable to the farmer than before.

“For example, if the precious ones were targeting black sigatoka and acceptability of like 80%, this time we are targeting black sigatoka, weevil resistance, nematode resistance and acceptability of above 90%,” says Dr. Arinaitwe.

Since 1990’s, NARO has bred and released seven banana (matooke) hybrids with high yielding coupled with resistances to common pests and diseases. These include Kabana6H, Kabana7H, NAROBan1(M9), NAROBan2(M19), NAROBan3(M20), NAROBan4(M25) and NAROBan5(M27).

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Address

National Banana Research Program
National Agricultural Research Laboratories
(NARL) - Kawanda P.O. Box 7065, Kampala
along Bombo – Gulu road.

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