Participatory evaluation of seven desert banana varieties were carried out in Dello Menna district of Bale zone, South Eastern Ethiopia. The purpose of the study was to test the adaptability of different banana varieties in the study area. The study was undertaken in four sites, with treatments arranged in randomized complete block design with three replications. Both agronomic data and farmers preferences toward the varieties were collected and analyzed using Genestat statistical software and matrix ranking respectively. The analysis result showed that there was significant (p < 0.05) difference among the varieties in all parameters. There was significant difference (p < 0.05) in number of fruits per bunch among the varieties. The highest fruit yield/plant (30.64kg/plant) was obtained from the variety Robusta followed by Grand nain (28.72) and Dwarf Cavandish (25.03), while the lowest yield (7.69kg/plant) was obtained from local Varity. Poyo has the shortest maturity period (463days) as compared to other varieties. Matrix ranking result of farmers preference also showed that overall mean of the ranks for all performance indicators were higher for Robusta (4.33), Grand nain (4.0), Jiantcavandish (3.50) and poyo (3.33). This means, Robusta, Grand nain, Jiant Cavandish and Poyo were high yielding as well as the most preferred banana varieties by farmers respectively. Therefore, based on this finding both Robusta, Grand nain, Jiant Cavandish and Poyo were recommended to banana growers due to absence of improved banana varieties in the study area. On the other hand, Dwarf Cavendish was the variety with high number of fruits per bunch. However, the farmers perceived that it is highly susceptible to wild animal damage due to its dwarf nature. Therefore breeders could use the variety in their banana improvement program to exploit its merit.
Prof. Dr. Bilal BİLGİN