A new banana variety being grown in Taita Taveta has amazed TBEN.
Unlike other species, this banana species used to grow in the wild and only recently have the inhabitants of Taita Taveta started using it.
Local residents are using the new variety to diversify their banana production and seek new markets for their products.
A wild banana plant grows in Taita Hills in Taita Taveta County.
“In the Taita Hills, we have wild bananas (masengerugu) with large seeds,” Geoffrey Aiyasa, a native of Taita Taveta, explains how the bananas differ from other varieties grown in Kenya.
Aiyasa added that the leaves of wild bananas are also different from those of other cultivated varieties.
“The leaves have spines and unlike other species, we can’t use them to feed our livestock,” he explains.
Some of the TBEN wanted to know what is so special about wild bananas and why they should be grown as an alternative.
“It’s the original banana, not the modified one we take every day and it’s sweeter too,” Aiyasa replied to the eager crowd.
Kimathi M’itiri responded on Twitter revealing that he grows the bananas and has additional benefits.
“The leaves are suitable for packaging perishables, and the seeds inside the fruit have a medicinal powder that is used to treat wounds,” M’itiri noted.
TBEN.co.ke sought from experts whether the wild banana could be used to diversify agriculture and also whether there was any medicinal value in the seeds.
Speaking exclusively TBEN.co.ke Okisegere Ojepat, a food expert, praised the residents of Taita Taveta for diversifying their agriculture.
“It is a good step they are taking towards achieving food security and it should be encouraged,” Ojepat said in the exclusive interview.
On whether the bananas can find regional and international markets, he noted, “At the moment that’s not possible, they can only grow and sell the bananas locally.”
“There are established laws and procedures if you want to export farm products, the banana variety must be tested by experts and relevant government agencies,” he advised.
The testing will also show whether it is true that the bananas have medicinal value, as M’itiri claims.
A 2021 study by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), found that Taita Taveta County was the second highest producer of bananas in Kenya after Meru County.
Harvested bananas ready for the domestic market in Wundanyi, Taita Taveta.
Kenya news agency