Farmers’ knowledge of the banana (Musa Sp.) agroforestry systems in Kiboga District, Central Uganda
Banana is a major food and cash crop in Uganda, particularly in the central and southwestern regions. However, production is still below attainable yields and at the same time declining due to a number of reasons, with low soil fertility being paramount. Few farmers use inorganic fertilizers, with majority of them relying mainly on organic supplements including integration of trees/shrubs. However, trees and shrubs exist on banana farms in undefined numbers and composition, with no spacing and canopy management recommendations. Also, there is limited information on farmers’ knowledge on these systems. A survey was, therefore, conducted on 70 randomly selected farms in Kiboga district, central Uganda to assess farmers’ knowledge of, as well as identify trees and shrubs species and banana cultivars in their agro-ecologies. A total of 1,558 trees and shrubs belonging to 40 species and 21 families were recorded in the study area (52 trees/shrubs per banana plantation). These were dominated by Jackfruit, Artocarpus heterophyllus (15%), Natal fig, Ficus natalensis (10%), Albizia, Albizia coriaria (10%) and mango, Mangifera indica (9%). Further, 1,779 banana mats belonging to nine (9) cultivars and three (3) genome groups were observed growing underneath these four commonest tree species (2.6 banana mats per tree). The highest number of banana mats was observed growing underneath F. natalensis (54%) and A. coriaria (42%). Most (87%) observed banana cultivars belonged to the cooking East African Highland Banana (Musa AAA-EAHB) and dominated by Ndibwabalangira (21%). Farmers reported 25 benefits they derive from banana-trees/shrubs integration; with shade and firewood (38%), as well as income and timber (35%) being the main benefits reported. They also reported that the highest percentage of benefits was derived from F. natalensis (44%) and A. coriaria (32%). Of the four (4) most prevalent tree species, A. coriaria (100%) and F. natalensis (96%) were reported as good companion plant to bananas, whereas, A. heterophyllus (99%) and M. indica (97%) were regarded as bad companion plants. Farmers preferred a tree that allows light penetration (96%), is compatible with bananas and other crops (87%) and has easily decomposable leaves (83%). Therefore, F. natalensis and A. coriaria should be integrated in banana agrosystems for soil fertility improvement whereas; A. heterophyllus and M. indica be planted on farm boundaries. However, the best-bet spacing and pruning regimes for these trees should be determined to minimize the negative attributes as much as possible.
Keywords: Albizia coriaria, Artocarpus heterophyllus, banana cultivars, benefits, companions, Ficus natalensis, Mangifera indica, tree-species
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