Performance and adoption of tissue culture bananas in South Western and Central Uganda
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Banana is the major staple food for most Ugandans, and it is also a source of income and employment for the majority of rural households. However, it has experienced major decline mainly due to pests and diseases. This has been accelerated by the continuous use of infested banana suckers by farmers for plant propagation. Availability of clean planting material that is free from pests and diseases has become a major constraint in recent years. One of the innovations to address this problem is the development of tissue culture technology as a source of pathogen free planting material to banana farmers. This technology can be improved by enhancing the plants with endophytes (Fusarium oxysporum). This study assessed performance of the tissue culture technology compared to other clean planting material technologies (endophyte enhanced tissue culture, hot water treated suckers and conventional suckers) in on-farm experiment. The study also compared the economic performance of tissue culture to that of conventional suckers, and identified socio-economic and technical factors affecting its adoption in central and western Uganda. Primary data were obtained from on-farm experiment and through interviews of 240 farmers in a survey. Statistical data analysis tools used were; analysis of variance (ANOVA), partial budget analyses, Chi-square tests of association, t-test analyses and logic model analysis. Results showed that tissue culture bananas exhibit higher plant growth and higher bunch weight with a 19% increase in yield compared to conventional suckers in the first plant cycle. There were no significant differences in yield between tissue culture and endophyte -enhanced tissue culture. A partial budget analysis showed that, although the cost of production was higher for tissue culture compared to suckers, the gross margins were higher compared to conventional suckers except in areas where the banana prices were low. Results of the logit model indicated that farmers’ perception on yield, access to planting material and contact with extension workers influenced adoption of tissue culture.