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Have you ever thought of starting a banana farm?

By Grace Chomba

A banana plant

Bananas are widely produced because of their delicious taste. Top producers of bananas worldwide are India, China, Uganda and Tanzania. It is the most profitable fruit tree to grow due to its high yield.

For a farmer to yield high production from banana farming, he or she should check out the following key factors:

Varieties

This factor goes in hand with the soil condition factor. You have to check what kind of variety will grow best in different soil conditions. To achieve a higher yield ensure you choose a variety that does best in the type of soil in your farm. To achieve this perform a soil test.

Climate condition and soil preparation

They can be cultivated over a wide range of well-drained soils. It requires a moistened soil rich in organic matter. The soil pH should be slightly acidic ranging from 6.5 to 8. Lower pH increases chances of diseases. The plants do well in warmer areas with fair moisture and low winds. 

For increased production ensure the soil has sufficient organic matter rich in nitrogen content, phosphorus and potash. Ensure the land is not affected by waterlogging as it causes roots to rot.

A soil test is advisable to measure the level of the nutrients required by the plants. This will help you avoid excessive use of fertilisers and know the soil pH.

Propagation

Propagation is the process of growing new plants. In banana farming, it is mainly done by the use of banana suckers and tissue culture.

You can either use tissue culture plants or suckers. Most farmers prefer using suckers since it’s convenient and cost-effective. Commercial farmers are urged to use tissue culture seedlings, as they reduce the spread of diseases and pests.  The tissue culture bananas mature faster and have a higher production rate.

To ensure the plants don’t struggle for sunlight make sure you’ve spaced each with a spacing of 1.8 metres by 1.5 metres. For higher production plant them at a spacing of 2metres by 2.5 metres.

Irrigation

The plant requires watering for maximum productivity. Provide sufficient water for good development after planting. Avoid excessive watering as it leads to roots rotting which results in low production.

Drip irrigation is highly recommended as it reduces water wastage, increases effective use of fertilisers, saves time and reduces the possibility of weed emergence.

Management

Weed control: You can manage this by spraying glyphosate before planting. A continuous manual weeding will help you get rid of the weed.

Remove the male buds: Male buds removal will enhance fruit growth and increase the bunch weight. It will help you achieve a healthy fruit.

Spraying: Spray the bunch just after the emergence of fruits to prevent trips. The pest will make the fruits unattractive through discolouration. Farmers are always looking for fresh and healthy fruits.

Cover the bunch: Cover the bunch with polyethene or any covering materials like dried leaves. This will prevent the bunch from direct sunlight, dust, and birds, insect and spray residue. Covering helps raise temperatures that aid in good development of fruit and early maturity.

Propping: Bunches are heavy which can result in the whole plant losing its body balance. This may cause the plant to fall on the field, which is a loss to the farmer. To prevent this propping is advised where you can use bamboo sticks to support the bunch. It also improves the uniform growth of fruits bunches.

Propping

Pests and diseases: Keep an eye on the following pests; nematodes, rhizome weevil, fruit scarring battle, pseudostem weevil, thrips and aphids.

The banana plant is attacked commonly by fungal disease like panama wilt, head rot, sigatoka leaf spot and viral diseases like banana bract mosaic virus, banana streak virus, banana mosaic virus and banana bunchy top virus.

For control measures, ensure you consult an expert to get accurate information.

Harvesting

Harvest the fruits after three to four months.

Remember to remove incomplete buds to increase the weight of other fruit bunches. The buds are removed manually.

 

 

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