How Banana Farmers In Kenya Can Benefit From Banana Tissue Culture

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Agriculture is Kenya`s main contributor to GDP (gross domestic product) in Kenya. This means Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya`s economy, due to its significance in economic growth. Farmers in Kenya are involved in both small and large-scale farming of crops and livestock. For many farmers in Kenya, other than cash crops such as coffee, fruits seem to a better economic activity due to demand and high profits in Kenyan Market.

One of the common fruits in Kenya is bananas. Banana fruits in Kenya are extensively cultivated as a staple food and also as an income generating activity by many local communities. However the main problem with banana farming in Kenya is that bananas in Kenya are easily prone to diseases that affect the yield and lead to profit loss and sustenance for the farmer. The pests and diseases that affect banana farming in Kenya are such as nematodes and weevils, fungal diseases like Sigatoka and Fusarium Wilt, and bacterial diseases in Kenya such as the Bacterial Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW). Banana farming in Kenya also is affected by viruses that cause diseases such as the banana bunchy top disease and banana streak.

In order to advance in agriculture and economic development in Kenya, one has to adopt farming technologies in Kenya that give advantage to farmers by providing planting materials free of disease, mature fast, better yield and safe for human consumption. One of the ways is through farming tissue culture bananas in Kenya which grow faster and give increased yields compared to the traditional species of bananas in Kenya.

Tissue culture in Kenya is a technique of generating plants from roots, leaves or stems in sterilized conditions and can be produced in abundant numbers. Tissue Culture is available for distribution to farmers in Kenya at household and commercial levels. Tissue culture in Kenya is also beneficial in helping plants such as Bananas in Kenya which do not produce seeds to reproduce.

Due to prevalent viral diseases affecting farming in Kenya, tissue culture has been used by Kenyan researchers to yield disease resistant growing materials. The cultured plants in Kenya are uniform genetically, free from disease and high yielding. This contributes to improved economic benefits per unit area of land through use of tissue cultured plants for farming in Kenya.

How Tissue cultured bananas are developed in Kenya

After generating under sterile conditions, new banana plantlets shoot; they are reared in a laboratory for some weeks before being transferred hardening in a green house. Two months after and at a height of several cintimetres, the banana plantlets in Kenya are ready for the farm. In comparison with the predictable use of banana suckers in Kenya, tissue culture in Kenya speeds up the multiplication process dramatically. In Kenya, about 2,000 healthy banana plantlets are produced from a single shoot of tissue culture practice compared to ten suckers from a single banana plant in Kenya within six months. Tissue culture banana in Kenya produces faster and fruits within 340 days compared to 420 days for conventional bananas in Kenya.

How to grow tissue culture bananas in Kenya

Ensure your farm in Kenya has the right climatic conditions for growth of bananas. Bananas in Kenya grow well in a wide range of climate humid conditions from sea level up to 1800M and atleast minimum rainfall of 1000 mm per year which is very important during flowering. Therefore, for those in low rainfall growing areas ensure the banana farming is done through irrigation in Kenya. The soils for banana farming in Kenya should be well drained and fertile, as they cannot withstand water logging.

Obtain the banana Plantlets from your local Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) nursery or any other research nursery in Kenya. 15 days before planting prepare pits measuring 1M× 1M× 1M then separate top and subsoil, then mix the top soil with kg of well-rotted manure per planting hole, 15 g of nematicide, 200g fertilizer. Fill the banana hole with the mixture and plant the banana plantlets 30cm deep into the mixture then firm up the soil. For irrigated crop at planting time, use 40 liters of water, thereafter 20 liters 3 times weekly. Use dry grass mulches for moisture retention during banana farming in Kenya. For stems with heavy banana bunches should be supported to avoid breakages. For good growth of bananas in Kenya, one should deleaf to ensure good growth and remove old diseased leaves. Afterwards the first harvest begins 15-18 months after planting the bananas in Kenya. When the banana fruit is light green in color and has a shiny appearance, this means its mature and ready for harvest. When harvesting bananas in Kenya, one should be careful to avoid bruising.

For temporary storage of bananas in Kenya, keep bunches in a cool dry place and when transporting them to local markets you should carefully wrap in grass or bananas leaves to avoid bruising. For the export market of bananas in Kenya, one my be required to do de-clustering, wash using disinfectant, dehandle, package and brand the bananas.

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