Kenyan growers claim that the potential of cooking banana (matoke) production has not been fully exploited, except in parts of Nyanza where it is an important staple food. Kenya has over 400,000 small holder banana farmers with 1.7 percent of Kenya’s total arable land planted covered by bananas but most of them are used to growing the dessert ripening banana leaving a big gap for cooking and plantain varieties.
Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO) is currently improving production of cooking banana and plantain through identification of banana and plantain varieties that could be introduced in different agro-ecological zones of Kenya especially the coast region.
KALRO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger said there is need to increase the genetic diversity of cooking banana and plantain in different regions in order to meet the requirements of the consumers and enhance producers’ income.
This, he added, would further meet increased demand for cooking banana and plantain in urban areas and at the same time ensure national food and nutrition security, and increased incomes for farmers.