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plantain; adaptation; yield; variety
Plantains are commonly grown in the coastal region of Kenya. However their demand in urban areas particularly in Nairobi has been increasing thus triggering demand for suitable varieties by farmers in medium altitude zone. A study was therefore initiated to determine the suitable varieties for this zone in order to meet the requirements and demand of the producers and consumers. The objective of this study was therefore to evaluate the performance of various plantain varieties in a medium altitude zone of Murang’a, Kenya. Consequently, three plantain varieties locally known as “Mkono wa Tembo”, “Bokoboko” and “Kampala” sourced with others from Kilifi, Busia, Kisii, Nyeri and Tharaka Nithi Counties were evaluated at KALRO HRI (1450m a.s.l) which is located in Muranga County. The design used was Randomised Complete Block (RCBD) with three replicates. Data on bunch weight, fingers per bunch, finger length and finger thickness were collected at full maturity stage. “Mkono wa Tembo” variety had significantly (P= 0.0006) higher mean bunch weight (43kg) than Kampala (24.5kg) and Bokoboko (16.6kg). Similarly, “Mkono wa Tembo” variety had significantly more fingers per bunch (119) than “Kampala” (85) and “Bokoboko” (59). For finger length, “Mkono wa Tembo” variety had significantly (P=0.0027) longer fingers (25.9 cm) compared to “Bokoboko” (20.1) but almost same size with “Kampala” (25.8 cm). On the other hand “Bokoboko” variety had significantly thicker fingers (17.8cm) than “Mkono wa Tembo” (13.0cm) and Kampala (13.6cm). “Mkono wa Tembo” therefore outperformed other varieties in all parameters considered apart from finger thickness which indicates its superior adaptability in this zone. Consumers normally prefer varieties with long and thin fingers thus “Mkono wa Tembo” and “Kampala” would go very well with consumers. In conclusion, “Mkono wa Tembo” variety was the most promising variety followed by “Kampala” variety for production in medium altitude zone of Murang’a.