Banana is among the major commodities in Rwanda used both as cash and food crop. The banana crop was introduced in 1971 in Rwanda and at the moment  Rwanda is among the highest consumption of bananas in the Eastern Africa  Region and ranks  2nd in banana consumption in the world with about 144 kg person per year. Number one consumer is Uganda with 223 kg per person per year. The bananas are grown on 213 000 ha and occupy 23% of arable land in the country.

Key areas for growing bananas

The areas where bananas are grown include the following:

  • Muhanga
  • Kivu Lake Border
  • Cyangugu
  • Kigali Rural regions
  • Ngoma District
  • Kirehe District
  • Kicukiro
  • Gasabo
  • Kibungo

Types of banana in Rwanda

The types of bananas grown in Rwanda include the following:

  • Cooking banana (eaten boiled) 30% in the country.
  • Desert banana (ripe fruits and industrial brewing10%)
  • Beer banana (brewing60%)
  • Plantain (cooked/roasted ripe fruits)

Uses in Rwanda

The uses of bananas are as follows:

  • Bananas are mainly processed into juice.
  • Banana contributes to animal feeding such as banana steams.
  • Banana leaves, dried stems of banana are used for handcraft products.
  • Cooking bananas is a key cash crop in Rwanda.
  • Banana wine is produced through fermenting banana juice.
  • Banana plants are used for decoration of wedding places and other social places.
  • Cooking banana bunches are often as gifts during social functions.
  • Bananas have become a part of Rwandan culture.

Challenges with growing banana in Rwanda

The challenges of growing bananas include the following:

  • There is limited market for banana.
  • The volume of bananas is also too low to fully support a factory of banana wine.
  • Price fluctuation
  • The poor management mainly due to poor weeding leading to low output.
  • Banana robbers in the plantations.
  • There are various diseases that attack banana crop in Rwanda.
  • Poor soil fertility.
  • Lack of mulching materials and poor spacing in the plantations.
  • The quality of banana products such as banana juice and wine is still low.