Matooke: Best practices for growing the crop
Posted Wednesday, March 27 2013 at 00:00
With an annual production of about 10 metric tonnes, the crop ranks high among enterprises that support livelihoods of smallholder poor rural farming communities. Dr Aggrey Kyobuguzi, describes how to grow and care for matooke.
Matooke is one of the crops that is at least grown around the country on both large or small scale. It is one of the important economic resources for rural farmers in Uganda.
The crop is grouped into types which include; cooking brand, nakabululu and muvubo; beer banana; kiasubi Kayinja, roasting banana; gonja and dessert banana; bogoya, ndizi (apple banana). Matooke is mainly grown in the western and central regions of the country.
These are steps on how to grow matooke, they include;
Dig holes at least 60 cm (2ft) in diameter and 60 cm (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.
Spacing varies with type of bananas. Tall types of bogoya are widely spaced and short ones like nakytengu are closely spaced. On average, spacing is 3m x 3m (10ft x 10ft); ranging from 2.4 m to 4.5 m between the holes giving a plant population of 750 – 900 per hectare.
For proper production, a good supply of nutrients is needed. The crop will benefit from farm yard manure if available or a dressing of 500gm of single superphosphate, 500gm muriate of potash and 500gm of calcium-ammonium-nitrate at planting.
Weed infestation can cause a drop in banana yield, therefore, weeds must be controlled either by mechanical weeding or by herbicides like gramoxone. For a mature established field mulching with coffee husks, elephant grass or other dry seedless grasses is a recommended practice against weeds.
However Dr Kyobuguzi says that on a slope especially where mulching is inadequate, put in bands stabilised with elephant grass to control soil erosion.
Leave three to five main stem of varying ages per stool. This is to give continuous crop throughout the year. The fewer the number of stems the bigger the size of bunches.
Banana pseudostems are likely to break under the weight of heavy bunches. Thus, forked poles should often be used to keep the stems upright.
The fruit is cut down from the banana tree when mature. The colour of the fruits when ripe varies among varieties. For some varieties especially the cooking ones, the colour remains green but for the beer and desert varieties, the colour turns yellow.
When bunches are harvested for sale, care should be taken to prevent the fruits from being bruised.
Average yields of bananas are 1,000 – 1,200 bunches per annum under medium husbandry practices and 1,250 bunches under excellent husbandry practices.
Matooke cannot be stored for long as they get ripe and rot after a short time. After harvesting, Dr Kyobuguzi notes that they must be marketed quickly to avoid losses.
Dr. Aggrey Kyobuguzi is the agricultural advisory services officer at NAADS.