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What It Takes To Manage A Commercial Matooke Plantation

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Washington Mugerwa, an urban farmer, says before you embark on matooke growing you must seek an expert’s guide.

He explains that if one keeps away from experts, one is bound to make mistakes that will cost him or her money and discourage one from farming.

Mugerwa says many people have money and want to start without guidance, but experts will help you to move from one level to another.

“To be successful in matooke farming, one needs to be committed and able to produce quality products that will fetch high profits. Many Ugandans have space in their courtyard yet each banana plant produces two bunches in a year. That small space can do farming, but most times focus is always put on big farms, which are not affordable for everyone,” he says.

Wilson Okurut from the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) says matooke is the most important food crop in Uganda produced by millions of smallholder farmers with yields are as low as five to 30 metric tonnes per hectare a year compared to potential yields of 70 metric tonnes.

“When a farmer wants to grow matooke he is expected to plant seedlings free of pests and disease. The site should have deep well-drained and fertile soils, preferably rich in organic matter because it will enable the roots of the plants to be stable and to tolerate infections”, Okurut advises.

According to Okurut, application of fertiliser in soil preparation is important for boosting soil nutrients. This leads to quality yield of banana bunches weighing 70kg to 80kg. A farmer who applies fertiliser in his field is capable of keeping the plantation above 50 years without replanting.

Dig holes at least 60cm (2ft) in diameter and 60cm (2ft) deep. Half fill the top soil mixed with rotted manure before putting in to the planting hole. A cover crop like beans, groundnuts should be inter-planted.

It is advisable to plant at the beginning or during the main rain season for proper establishment and subsequent production.

The ideal plant spacing for medium-sized bunches in the four rainfall zones in Uganda differs. The dry zones that receive less than 1,000mm per annum should have spacing of three metres 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 metres by two metres.

The third zone that 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 metres by two metres.

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