About Tissue Culture

The low banana productivity can be attributed to unavailability of clean planting materials.

Pests and disease are a major challenge to banana production, causing significant losses in yields and quality.

 Most farmers recycle their own planting materials which are mostly diseased and pest infested have low vigour   lack uniformity in size an age.

This necessitates the adoption of technologies that provide clean planting materials to increase banana yield and quality.

Tissue culture banana seedlings

These are banana plantlets that are pest and disease free and are produced under controlled conditions.

The plantlets are sourced from registered nurseries that are known to sell Tissue culture seedlings e.g. KARLO,JKUAT and some private companies eg Aberdare Technologies,etc

Advantages of planting tissue culture bananas.

  • The planting material produced is free from pest and disease
  • Tissue culture provides a method of rapidly multiplying clean planting material
  • High vigour and good chances of high survival rates after establishment.
  • Uniformity in establishment and production is achieved.
  • The yields are higher.

Easy transportation of new varieties is made possible.

Hardening Nursery

Seedlings are hardened in certified nurseries.

A hardening nursery is a structure where plantlets from the TC laboratory are kept to enable them to adjust to the outside environment in preparation for field planting.

 Careful nursing of the plantlets protecting them from harsh field conditions in the early stages of growth.

The following should be considered when siting a hardening nursery.

• Proximity to transport network.

• Security from wild and domestic damage.

• Site should be away from harsh wind conditions.

• Good drainage.

In an area free of pest disease and nematodes

Hardening shed requirements

Recommended Shade net, 8ft Posts, Door, Timber, Polythene sheet, Nails, soil sterilization drums, Metal pipe, 1 ton ballast, Water tank,.

Tools and equipment needed in a hardening Nursery

 Potting bags , Poly sheets ,Jembes, , Fork jembes, Spade , Rakes , Buckets , Wheel barrows , Watering cans ,Horse pipes, soil  sterilization equipment.

Other input necessary in the nursery is forest soil, fertilizers and disinfectant,

Soil mixtures

The soil should comprise of forest soil plus any of the following; gravel, rice husks, sawdust, wood shavings, wood bark, or sand at a ratio of 6 parts to 1 part.

The different components are measured and then mixed thoroughly using a shovel.

Soil sterilization

This involves heating soil with a steam-air mixture. Two or more drums are required, an upright drum filled with moist soil mixture and a horizontal one half-filled with water which is then heated at 60-700 C. The steam produced sterilizes the soil and then emerges through the top lid after which a thirty minutes (30) sterilization period is observed.

It is important to sterilize soil to kill harmful organisms such as soil-borne fungal diseases, nematodes and weeds.

The sterilized soil is removed and when cooled, covered to avoid contamination ready and put in the poly bags ready for planting the TC bananas Plantlets

Simple soil sterilizing unit                                                      hardening structure capacity 10,000 seedlings

Cost of Establishing a simple Hardening Nursery.

This can be made cheaply using locally available materials

Capacity: About 2,000 plantlets

Size 4m (width) x7m (length) x8m (height)

ItemPrice per UnitTotal (KSH
Shade net74m254.00/m23,996
1Roll  chain link wire5,0005,000
  8 Posts, 1 Door, Timber, 4 kg Nails, 1 Metal pipe, 2 Elbows, 1 union 9440
  2 soil sterilization drums, 1 drum for water storage, 1 hosepipe, 2 watering can, 8100
  1 ton Ballast 3000
2000 poly bags, 10m polythene sheet 4,500
Water tank 25,000
Labour 5,000
Contingencies 10% 6,403
Total cost 70,439

Price of buying Tc banana plantlets 2,000×80=160,000

Price of ready TC banana seedling 2000×130=260,000


 Preferred varieties should be prioritized based on the following aspects.

Height, use, disease tolerance, drought tolerance, high yield and market preference.

Some of the varieties include, Valery,Giant and  Giant Cavendish , Fhia 17&23,Lacatan,Ngombe,Williams,etc

Hardening of preferred   varieties enhances adoption of the tissue culture technology by the farmers.

Management in the nursery

  • Follow a recommended fertilizer program or regularly spray with foliar feed containing micronutrients and nitrogen.
  •  A high standard of hygiene is necessary to reduce the risk of damage by pest or disease.
  • Should be kept clean and free from weeds.
  • Regular watering of the seedlings.
  •  Pests and diseases should be controlled immediately they are spotted.
  •  Seedlings should be arranged in neat rows with clear paths for walking and transportation.
  • Varieties should be separated and labeled accordingly, showing date of transplanting and number of seedlings for ease of marketing.
  • Regularly Scout for pest or diseases on the young plantlets and apply control measures on need basi

Record keeping

 Proper record keeping at all stages in the hardening is important to ensure profitability and enhance traceability.

These include;

  • Source of planting materials.
  • Varieties (proper labeling in the nursery).
  • Planting records.
  • Customer inventory.
  • Financial /transaction records

 Nursery records are also important in the following ways

  • Regulate operations and keep track of activities and expenses.
  • Establish the history of the business.
  • To know the performance of business. It enables one to know when business is making loss or profit.
  • Helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the business.
  • Helps manage changes and improvements in the business.
  • Will help you plan to meet financial commitments such as paying creditors.
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