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BIOTECHNOLOGY TO BENEFIT SMALL-SCALE BANANA PRODUCERS IN KENYA

By Florence Wambugu, Margaret Karembu, Michael Njuguna and Samuel Wakhusama Wanyangu

Abstract

This project was conceived in response to the rapid decline in banana (Musa) production experienced in Kenya over the last two decades. The decline was brought about by: infestation with Panama disease or Fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense (FOC); Black and Yellow sigatoka leaf spot caused by Mycosphaerella fijiensis (Morelet) and Mycosphaerella musicola (Leach) respectively; weevils (Cosmopolites sordidus) / nematode (Radopholus similis) complexes; and, environmental degradation. The common farmer practice of using untreated sword suckers aggravated the problem further. The situation threatened food security, employment and income in banana producing areas. Thus the broad goal of the project was to make available to small-scale resource-poor farmers clean and improved banana seedlings to alleviate the increasing poverty and hunger in Kenya. These farmers make up to nearly 80 % of the Kenyan population and their agricultural production, which is mainly subsistence, contributes over 90 % of food production in the country. The application of tissue culture (TC) technology to address these constraints, was therefore an appropriate option to ensure availability of clean planting material. The specific objectives of the project were to build and upgrade banana TC capacity in Kenya by (i) systematically introducing the technology to farmers and supporting them with the necessary extension, (ii) establishing public/private sector links to ensure timely availability of the TC materials, (iii) carrying out

Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.194.8137
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