Assessment of agronomic practices in banana-coffee and banana-cacao systems in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo an entry point for sustainable and diversified organic systems
Banana-coffee systems in eastern DR Congo, which occupy the mid- and high-altitude undulating production landscapes, are over 60 years old, whereas banana-cacao sytems are more recent. Bananas provide shade for the young and mature coffee plants, and young cacao trees, while some annual crops, such as taro are often integrated in these production systems. Innovations to improve soil health, increase system yield and strengthen the sustainability of smallholder/out-grower systems have over the past decade gradually been introduced in the region by a diverse range of stakeholders including private sector companies, public sector, and research and learning institutions. Selection, multiplication and promotion of high yielding coffee, cacao and banana cultivars is ongoing. Promising agronomic practices include the integration of fast-growing nitrogen fixing hedge species as border or relay crops and intercropping with fast growing shade- and drought-tolerant grain legumes and legume cover crops, to provide soil stability, mulch and improve soil nutrient balance. For example, mucuna and chickpea, when established during the last month of the rainy season, can grow and produce large amounts of biomass or grain during the subsequent dry season months when no annual crops are in the fields. Other promising approaches include optimal banana mat structure and spacing for shade level management, organic fertilization formulations and doses (e.g., compost based on coffee pulp) and plantation rejuvenation approaches using clean planting materials.
Blomme, G., Ocimati, W., Vutseme, L., Safari Kitumaini, N., Kamira, M. and Ntamwira, J. (2023). Assessment of agronomic practices in banana-coffee and banana-cacao systems in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo an entry point for sustainable and diversified organic systems. Acta Hortic. 1367, 71-80
agronomic practices, arabica coffee, cover crops, sustainable intensification, system diversification