The banana at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute stand during the ongoing Embu ASK show. Photo | Charles Wanyoro 

A giant 128kg banana from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) was among produce that captured the imagination of farmers at the ongoing Embu Agricultural Society of Kenya show.
Known as Fhia 17 variety, it stands at over 1.5 metres tall and produces very large bananas.
The crop’s seedling sold out in the first 30 minutes of display. Other bananas normally weigh about 15kg. “We didn’t know the banana would attract such a huge demand. We will get more for farmers,” said Murimi Kageta, a Kari technical officer.
The banana variety was introduced two years ago but the seedlings were not available until a few months ago.
The banana matures in a year and according to Kageta, it has been bred conventionally and is suitable for coffee and cotton growing zones provided it gets enough water.
Kageta said the banana is resistant to diseases.
40 bags per acre
“It is relatively resistant to Panama and Cigar end rot diseases. However, you need to get seedlings from disease-free orchards. A lot of diseases are transmitted from the nurseries that habour them,” he said. Kari also showcased a new maize variety called KH539E for medium altitude and can yield 40 bags an acre.
The variety is resistant to stalk borers and has a stronger stem.
Thousands of show enthusiasts braved rain to sample what exhibitors had at the show that started on Thursday.
Embu show chairman Joseph Njeru said they had 78 exhibitors. Last year they had 56.
Food security
They were showcasing banking, education, agriculture, housing, technology, hotel and motor vehicles products.
At the Chuka University stand, farmers were taught about Lama, an animal that resembles a camel. It is commonly reared in South America and is slaughtered for meat.
Many learners were also attracted to the Achievers College and Embu University College stands for various agribusiness courses.
“The society will work with farmers and agricultural agencies to help achieve best farming practices,” said Njeru.