In Summary
  • As many other residents, he was an ardent maize farmer but a stubborn weed known as African couch grass (Digitaria abyssinica), which locals call sangara, pushed him to the fruit.
  • But the farmer recently found a lucrative market from Twiga Foods, a Nairobi-based firm that offers Sh16 per kilo, with his bananas averaging 50kg. Munuve harvests up to 30 bunches a month.
  • Davis Mwangoma, the county executive in-charge of agriculture, says that with the help of the European Union, the county government of Taita-Taveta is putting up a Sh112 million banana processing plant in Taveta sub county.
  • Moles are among the biggest enemies of banana plants, with the rats eating the crop from the ground leaving them to die

Some 8km from Taveta Town in Mrabani, the Seeds of Gold team meets Mark Munuve on his banana plantation.

The Njoro Kubwa canal channels water from Njoro River into the area that most farmers like Munuve use to irrigate their farms.

The 40-year-old farmer grows the Grande naine banana varieties, a venture that he has been doing since 2013. However, Munuve confesses that he did not begin as a banana farmer.

As many other residents, he was an ardent maize farmer but a stubborn weed known as African couch grass (Digitaria abyssinica), which locals call sangara, pushed him to the fruit.

“The weed would infest my maize making me harvest losses. I decided to try growing bananas. I planted 50 stems on the border of the farm and in the middle row. With time, I realised that the deadly weed did not attack the bananas," says Munuve.

And that was his turning point, with the farmer adding 150 stems of bananas on the one-and-half acre farm. Today, he is one the leading banana farmers in Mrabani.

"I plant the bananas by first digging holes that measure 90cm by 90cm by 60cm then I put in 20kg of animal manure.

MOLES' THREAT

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