IMPROVING CROP PROTECTION ON BANANA FARMS IN GHANA
Banana has a high value in Ghana, but production is affected by increasing pest and disease pressures, which have resulted in severe losses. As a long-term measure, a number of plantain and cooking banana hybrids were introduced for evaluation. These new cultivars were evaluated in 10 communities in the Assin district of Central Ghana. In this district, smallholders grow plantain as an intercrop. In each community, the participating farmers organised themselves into groups of four or six with each small group pooling resources to tend one communal trial plot. With the help of extension agents, farmers planted the hybrids alongside a landrace of their choice. Farmers were allowed to use their own agronomic practices, but were trained in agronomic techniques and healthy planting material multiplication. After the trial, farmers in ten communities were interviewed to gauge reaction to the hybrids. The hybrids, which performed better than the landraces, were well accepted by farmers. 84% of the respondents indicated that the hybrids stayed green throughout their cycle, with about 10 functional leaves remaining at harvest as against 0-4 for traditional landraces, indicating the hybrids tolerance to leaf diseases. The higher leaf area had the added advantage of providing shade for the young cocoa intercrop. The hybrids were all high yielding, with 63.9% of farmers ranking FHIA-21 (AAAB) as having the best commercial potential followed by FHIA-25 (AAB), CRBP-39 (AAAB) and BITA-3 (AAAB). It was observed that the landraces planted in between the hybrids also performed quite well. 60% of the farmers were found to be producing their own healthy planting material and distributing it to other farmers. The use of new plantain cultivars in small-holder farming systems may be one approach to reducing losses due to pests.
Dzomeku, B.M., Armo-Annor, F., Adjei-Gyan, K., Ansah, J. and Nkakwa, A. (2009). IMPROVING CROP PROTECTION ON BANANA FARMS IN GHANA. Acta Hortic. 828, 389-394
plantain, cooking banana, hybrids, landraces, intercropping