Hybrid bananas are improved banana varieties with enhance bunch yield, resistance to pests and diseases. They are locally developed by NARO scientists called breeders using conventional breeding methods.
For example, NARO in 2010 officially released to farmers a hybrid banana called Kabana 6H that popularly/locally known as Kiwangaazi or M9.
It yields two times higher than most local East African Highland Bananas, it is resistant to black Sigatoka and has resistance to nematodes and weevils, the key threats to banana production in Uganda.
The benefits one can get from growing such bananas include higher yields, long lasting plantations and subsequenly higher income.
Like most of the local matooke bananas, hybrid bananas require well drained deep fertile soils with high humus content. Very acidic soils are not suitable. Also, like other bananas, they require a considerable amount of nutrients to maintain high yields.
I plan to have an acre of gonja (plantain), what should I consider when setting it up?
Ensure that you have a source of clean planting material (suckers or tissue culture plantlets), the soils are not waterlogged, dig appropriate holes 3 ft wide and 2.5-3 ft deep.
Large and deep planting holes ensure that the roots of future plants exploit the greatest volume of soil and also plants withstand toppling by wind.
The recommended spacing for commercial bananas (local orhybrids) is 3m between the planting rows and 3m within the row (3m x3m). Planting should be done at the onset of rains.
The term “plantain” is loosely applied to any banana cultivar that is eaten when cooked. However, there is no formal botanical distinction between bananas and plantains. Cooking is also a matter of custom, rather than necessity.
Ripe plantains can be eaten raw, since the starches are converted to sugars as they ripen. In some countries, there may be a clear distinction between plantains and bananas, but in other countries, where many more cultivars are consumed, the distinction is not made in the common names used.
Africa is considered a secondary centre of diversity of Musa cultivars: West Africa for true plantains and the central highlands for East African Highland bananas (also known as matooke or matoke in Uganda), most of which are cooked, although some are primarily used to produce beer.
Plantains are a major food staple in West and Central Africa, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and northern, coastal parts of South America.
They are treated as a starchy fruit with a relatively neutral flavour and soft texture when cooked. As with all bananas, part of the attractiveness of plantains as food is that they fruit all year round, making them a reliable all-season staple food.
Answered by Dr Robooni Tumuhimbise,
banana breeder, NARO-Kawanda.