Uazire, A.T.; Ribeiro, C.M.; Bila Mussane, C.R.; Pillay, M.; Blomme, G.; Fraser, C.; Staver, C. and Karamura, E.B. 2008. Preliminary evaluation of improved banana varieties in Mozambique.
African Crop Science Journal 16( 1): 17 – 25.
Banana (Musa spp.) production in Mozambique is largely confined to the Cavendish variety that is eaten as a dessert. On the other hand, banana is a staple food crop in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The introduction of a range of high yielding and disease resistant cooking and dessert varieties in Mozambique could play a potential role in ensuring food security and raising incomes of millions of small scale farmers. In the framework of a USAID-funded project on dissemination and evaluation of improved banana varieties, plantlets of new Musa hybrids were distributed to small-scale farmers. In addition, several demonstration plots and an on-station trial at the Agrarian Research Institute of Mozambique (IIAM), Umbeluzi research farm were established. The objectives of this study were (i) to evaluate the general performance of the hybrids in the different locations and analyse data collected from one of the sites, and (ii) to assess farmer acceptability of the hybrids in one of the agro-ecologies in Mozambique. The FHIA (Fundación Hondureña de Investigación Agrícola) hybrids performed relatively well in the more moist agro-ecologies and where irrigation was available, but not in the drier areas in the south of Maputo. Although ‘FHIA-17’ was the most vigorous, this variety took the longest time to produce a bunch. The hybrid, ‘SH 3640’ produced the largest bunch but this was not significantly different from that of ‘Grand Naine’ the local check used in the trials. The hybrid ‘SH-3460’ and ‘Grand Naine’ emerged as the best cultivars in terms of post-harvest quality and acceptability. Less than 50% of the participants indicated their preference for ‘FHIA-17’, ‘FHIA-21’ or ‘FHIA-23’. Feedback from farmers involved in the on-farm activities indicated that those from the central and southern parts of the country preferred dessert types, while those from the north preferred both dessert and cooking types.