Banana Distribution and their Seed Systems in Central and Eastern Kenya.
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Bananas (Musa spp.) serve as food, income resource and animal feed in addition to other environmental benefits. In Kenya, the crop is mainly grown and managed by smallholder farmers. Over the last two decades, banana production has been on the decline. Pests, diseases and limited access to adequate clean planting materials constitute priority problems. This study aimed to determine distribution of bananas varieties, and the availability and sources of planting materials in Central and Eastern provinces of Kenya. Use of naturally regenerated suckers as planting materials exceeded 90% and continuously perpetuated the spread of banana diseases and pests that substantially reduce yields. Prospects for increasing seedlings supply through micropropagation has not been successful due to high cost of tissue cultured seedlings leading to low adoption (<60%). There is a gap between farmers with varying resource capabilities in accessing and using good quality planting materials. This can be resolved by interventions that supply farmers with healthy and affordable banana seedlings. Macropropagation, which is a simple, cost effective method that has been used successfully in other countries has great potential to address issues.