IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The agronomic and economic benefits of fertilizer and mulch use in highland banana systems in Uganda


  • Wairegi, L.W.I.
  • van Asten, P.J.A.


Banana is the most important food crop in Uganda. However, there has been a decline in productivity, attributed to declining soil fertility, drought, pests and diseases and crop management factors. This study aimed to explore the possibility of increasing yields through the use of fertilizer and mulch, and to evaluate the benefits of these inputs across the major banana producing regions in Uganda. This study was carried out in 179 smallholder plots in Central, South, Southwest and East Uganda in 2006/7. Half of the plots were 'demonstration plots' of an agricultural development project, while the other half were neighboring farmer plots that acted as 'control'. Demonstration plots received mineral fertilizer (100% of plots), averaging 71 N, 8 P, 32 K kg ha-1 yr-1 and external mulch from grass and crop residues (64% of plots), whereas control plots received no mineral fertilizer and little external mulch (26% of plots). Demonstration plots had significantly (P [less-than-or-equals, slant] 0.05) higher yields than control plot in Central, South and Southwest, but average yield increases varied from 4.8 t ha-1 yr-1 (Southwest) to 8.0 (Central), and 10.0 (South). Average weevil corm damage (3%) and nematode-induced root necrosis (7%) was low and similar for both plot types, so yield increases could only be explained by the use of fertilizer and mulch. The highest demonstration plot yield increases were observed where fertilizer addressed key nutrient deficiencies identified using the compositional nutrient diagnosis approach. Farm gate bunch prices declined from 0.17 (Central Uganda) to 0.07 USD kg-1 (Southwest Uganda). Consequently, average marginal rate of return (MRR) of fertilizer and mulch use ranged from 0.1 (Southwest) to 5.8 (Central). The technologies were likely to be acceptable to farmers (MRR [greater-or-equal, slanted] 1.00) up to 160 km away from the capital. Fertilizer use is likely to be acceptable in all regions (MRR = 0.7-9.4) if local fertilizer prices of 2006/7 (average USD 0.56 kg-1 of fertilizer) declined by 50%. Doubling of fertilizer prices is likely to make fertilizer use unacceptable beyond 100 km away from the capital. The study concludes that there is scope for increased input use in banana systems in Uganda, but that regional variations in crop response, input/output prices, and price fluctuations have to be taken into account.

Suggested Citation

  • Wairegi, L.W.I. & van Asten, P.J.A., 2010. "The agronomic and economic benefits of fertilizer and mulch use in highland banana systems in Uganda," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(8), pages 543-550, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:103:y:2010:i:8:p:543-550

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nkonya, Ephraim M. & Pender, John & Kaizzi, Crammer & Edward, Kato & Mugarura, Samuel, 2005. "Policy options for increasing crop productivity and reducing soil nutrient depletion and poverty in Uganda:," EPTD discussion papers 134, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. R. L. Voortman & B. G. J. S. Sonneveld & M. A. Keyzer, 2000. "African Land Ecology: Opportunities and Constraints for Agricultural Development," CID Working Papers 37, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:103:y:2010:i:8:p:543-550. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.