Banana is one of the most consumed foods in Uganda. Nearly 80% of Ugandans know about bananas and would like to grow them.
If you plant at a spacing of 3x3metres within rows, you can have 450 plants on an acre of land. Standard holes should be 60cm deep and wide. Bananas take nine to 12 months to start fruiting.
However, by this time, there should be at least two new stems on the first plants. It is important that you do not allow each plant to have more than three stems to avoid congestion.
Over congested plants produce small bunches because they are fighting for resources. In the first year, you will harvest at least 450 bunches, however, harvests will go up as new stems yield.
Expenses include weeding, mulching once a year and using organic fertilisers.
Which are the best suckers?
Tissue culture suckers are the best because they are pure and free from any diseases since they are got straight from the laboratory.
Tissue culture involves getting a small, clean part of a plant and nurturing it into a sucker or seedling under controlled conditions. The sucker carries all the traits of the mother plant.
There are several laboratories producing these disease-free suckers. The laboratories can now produce any variety of bananas including the traditional musakala, nakabululu, mbwazirume, 15 nakitembe and kibuzi.
If you are to go for the traditional suckers, ensure that they are clean and free of disease. You can check around the root area and if they have blackish spots, then they are not clean.
After establishing your shamba using either tissue cultured or traditional suckers, you do not have to buy suckers again, but rather expand using offshoots from the shamba. Offshoots start appearing after nine months.
When should I cut off the bud?
Cut off the bud when the young banana fingers start facing upwards. Failure to remove the bud slows the growth of the bunch because it is the resources.
However, ensure that you use clean long poles that have not been used on any other farm to cut off the bud.
You can use a knife to cut off the buds, but make sure you clean the knife by heating it over a fire.
When do I harvest the crop?
The fruit is cut down from the banana tree when it reaches maturity. The colour of the fruits when mature varies among the varieties.
For the matooke, the colour remains green, with well-formed fingers. However, for the beer or juice varieties, they turn yellowish.
To harvest, cut the stem, but do not allow the bunch to hit the ground because this can break or bruise the fingers.
Bananas are perishable, so you should ensure that you already have a market for the harvests.
Most farmers sell their produce on the farm.
However, there are some who engaged in exporting bananas, so you can approach any of them for advice.