Approximately 5,000 small-scale banana farmers in Rombo District, Kilimanjaro Region have benefited from Banana Agronomy Project, a vital four years initiative which eyes to improve production and productivity of the favourable highlands cash crop.
Through the ambitious project, beneficiary farmers are trained to embrace best agronomic practices, including soil fertility, ways of conserving soil moisture and to mitigate common banana pests and diseases. Other practices are creation of basins for harvesting water, banana weevils trapping and pairing of planting suckers.
Through adoption of the agronomic practices, the farmers have impressively managed to uplift their productivity, from former 9kg to 15kg per one banana bunch to currently between 40kg to 60kg.
Under financial patronage from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project is implemented by Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI-Tengeru) in collaboration with Bioversity International, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Makerere University and Uganda-based National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO).
Head of the Project, luma Kitundu, Researcher, told The Guardian in an exclusive interview that the initiative was focusing on improving scalable banana for small scale farmers in highland banana cropping systems in East Africa.
Kitundu told the publication that the project was useful because despite several interventions so far done in researching and inventing improved banana seed varieties and distribute the seeds to farmers, production of banana in the country had however remained low for years.