Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Applying the correct amounts of fertilizer to East African highland bananas can double the fruit production a study has found.

Carried out in nearly 200 fields in Uganda, the study by IITA and funded by US AID has found that fertilizer can increase annual banana yields by 50% from 10 to 20 tonnes per hectare.

However, the study also found that less than 5% of farmers actually apply fertilizer to their bananas.

The farmers said high costs, erratic supply, inconvenient packaging, limited access to credit facilities, partial knowledge on fertilizer use and the perceived negative effect of fertilizers on soil quality and on the taste of the bananas stopped them from using it.

To combat the belief that fertilizer ruins the taste of bananas, a related farmer sensory evaluation was conducted by IITA and Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). It showed that fertilizer use actually improved the quality of the fruit in the production of matooke.

Matooke is a meal of steamed green bananas and is one of the national dishes of Uganda.
To guide farmers, IITA and its partners have developed several site-specific recommendations for the application of fertilizer. The institute is also encouraging private, public, and non-government sectors to address fertilizer packaging to suit the specific needs of farmers.

Uganda is the second largest
 producer and consumer of bananas in the world.
Over 70 million people in the East African
highlands depend on bananas as their
primary source of food and income.

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