The ideal plant spacing for medium-sized bunches in the four rainfall zones in Uganda differs. The dry zones in the eastern part of Uganda that receive less than 1,000mm per annum should have spacing of three by three metres.
The zones that are slightly wet and (receiving 1,000 to 1,200mm per annum of rain) should have a spacing of three by two metres.
For the third zone typically (the northeast), which receives 1,200 to 1,400mm per annum, spacing should be two and half metres by two metres. The fourth zone, which receives 1,400mm and above should have a spacing of two by two metres.
Isaac Malinga, the director of Maikut Farm, says in estern Uganda, matooke is more expensive in October and December. Although bunches of matooke are bigger from June to August, in the dry season, farmers earn less from sales.
Bananas are one of the most expensive food items for urban consumers, costing between sh15,000 and sh35,000 per bunch and accounting for 16% of the consumer food basket, according to the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO).
However, NARO says the profits hardly trickle down to the rural smallholder farmers.
Farmers say matooke is one of the most important food crop in Uganda, produced by millions of smallholder farmers, with yields as low as five to 30 metric tonnes per hectare a year, compared to potential yields of 70 metric tonnes.