The banana originated in South Asia region to northern Australia and is popular with most communities in Kenya. Production is scattered all over the country. Only a very small proportion of the Kenyan crop is exported. Most of it is consumed locally. Bananas can be eaten ripe as a dessert or cooked
Local cultivars in Kenya are ‘Muraru’, ‘Kiganda’, ‘Sukari’ among others and they are adopted to various agro-ecological zones. They can be eaten as dessert or cooked.
Improved cultivars includes, Apple, Gross Michel, Kampala, Dwarf Cavendish, Giant Cavendish, Williams, Grand Nain, Valery, Poyo and Lacatan. Tall varieties are Poyo and Lacatan, while medium varieties include Valery, Paz and Williams.
The recommended banana varieties for export in Kenya are Apple (sweet Banana), Giant Cavendish, Lacatan, Sabaki, Valery, Red Banana (all dessert type), and Uganda Green (cooking type)
VARIETIES GROWN IN KENYA
o Lacata, Apple, Gross, Michel Kampal, Dwarf, Cavendish Uganda Green, Giant Cavendis Williams, Grand Nain, Valer Poyo, Paz, Muraru, Kiganda, Sukari
Banana- growing zones range from Coastal Lands to Lower Highland zones.
Altitudes of below 1800 m above sea level are generally recommended for the production of bananas.
For optimal growth, bananas require a warm humid climate. An average temperature of 20°C to 30°C is required. Below 20°C, normal plant growth is retarded. Lacatan and Valery tolerates cold weather better than other varieties. Cooler areas (higher altitudes) slow down plant development and the inflorescence may also fail to emerge.
Bananas can grow well with an annual rainfall of 1000 to 2500 mm. optimal yields require a well distributed annual rainfall of 1400 mm or more, without long dry spells.
Bananas can be grown in a wide range of soils as long as there is good drainage and adequate fertility. They can tolerate short periods of flooding but do require good soil aeration. Light to medium, well drained loam soil is the best. Fertile deep soils rich in humus should be chosen wherever possible. For best growth, a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5 is recommended.
Bananas can be grown successfully in many parts of the country including Kisii, Kakamega, Bungoma, Meru, Murang’a, Embu, Nyeri, Kerio Valley, Kericho ,Baringo, Kirinyaga and the coastal region. They can also be grown in Kitui, Machakos and Makueni districts and also drier areas under irrigation.