Growing coffee and banana together could increase farmers’ revenues by as much as 50 percent, an IITA study has shown. Based on this finding, researchers are encouraging coffee and banana farmers in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo to grow the two crops together.
In 2005, IITA and the Ugandan National Agricultural Research Organisation were requested to evaluate the success of a USAID-funded Agricultural Enhancement Programme.
They found that Ugandan farmers got nearly 50 percent more income from growing coffee and bananas together than growing either crop alone.
“The study showed that when farmers intercropped banana plants with coffee in their fields, the coffee yield remained almost the same, with farmers gaining additional income from bananas. This is despite a slight reduction in the number of coffee plants to make room for bananas,” says Piet van Asten, IITA Systems Agronomist based in Uganda.
The research showed that in the arabica coffee-growing region around Mt Elgon, annual returns per hectare averaged US$4,441 for coffee and bananas grown together, compared with US$1,728 and US$2,364 for bananas and coffee grown alone, respectively.
In the robusta-growing areas in South and Southwest Uganda, annual returns per hectare averaged US$1,827 for coffee plus bananas, while farmers earned US$1,170 and US$1,286 for solely growing bananas and coffee, respectively.
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Corporate Communications Officer (International)
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