Naaro Tissue Culture Growers Banana Self-help Group in Murang’a County is one of the main sources of ripe banana in Ng’araria Ward of Kandara sub-county. The group supplies bananas to schools, hospitals and the local market.
Mary Muthoni, the vice chairperson of the group says they started off with 15 members in 2012 with the aim of growing tissue culture bananas and replace the traditional..bananas..as..tissues culture bananas fetched more on the market. The project had started well but they had encountered some challenges such as insufficient water during the dry spell. She adds that by the year 2015 the tissue culture bananas they had sourced from JKUAT had matured and they had started selling their ripe bananas. The yields had improved but they now encountered the problem of uneven ripening of bananas for the market.
“Tissue culture bananas are very fragile; when they start ripening you have to get them to market immediately otherwise you lose a lot. That is why it’s important to have bananas that ripen evenly” explains Pricilla wanjiku a member of the group.
In 2019, when NARIGP was introduced to the group by the sub-county agricultural officer, they decided to write a proposal on value addition of banana requesting for banana ripening chambers. They received KSh.352180. from NARIGP through the CDDC and the group contributed KSh.44,000 making a total of Ksh.396,180 for the project.
Through the CDDC, a shed with three ripening chambers was constructed for the group in one of the member’s compound as they did not have a plot of their own. In addition to this, they were provided with a water tank 3000litres capacity and a digital weighing machine.
“We want to thank NARIGP for helping us because as soon as we started using the chamber we saw a big change in the way bananas ripen” says the vice chairlady adding that the facilitator had taught them about marketing of bananas.
With ready markets the group started selling between 4000kg-5000kg of ripe bananas per week as opposed to 500kg a week before the construction of the chambers. They were planning to process bananas in future.
The Vice chairlady adds that they had witnessed the benefits of the ripening shed.
There is less wastage of bananas and they take a shorter time to ripen she says adding that there was uniform ripening of bananas which gave them a longer shelf life and this had enabled them to meet the requirements of their markets demands.