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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Farmers' preferences for East African highland cooking banana 'Matooke' hybrids and local cultivars

Madalla, Noel; Swennen, Rony; Brown, Allan; Carpentier, Sebastien; Van den Bergh, Inge; Crichton, Rhiannon; Marimo, Pricilla; Weltzien, Eva; Massawe, Cornel; Shimwela, Mpoki; Mbongo, Daud; Kindimba, Grace; Kubiriba, Jerome; Tumuhimbise, Robooni; Okurut, Asher W.; Cavicchioli, Martina; Ortiz Rios, Rodomiro Octavio


An understanding of farmers' preferences of new banana cultivars and their characteristics is critical for developing and selecting cultivars that meet consumer needs. Therefore, phenotypic selection in a genetically variable population remains an important aspect of plant breeding.

The participatory varietal selection approach for preference ranking was used on 31 'Matooke' secondary and primary triploid hybrids and local banana cultivars evaluated between 2016 and 2019 in Uganda and Tanzania to investigate how farmers' preference attributes could help breeders identify superior cultivars. The quantitative data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The qualitative data from farmers' focus group discussions (FGDs) were described using content analysis. The Mann–Whitney U test and Wilcoxon's signed-rank test were used to confirm the difference in farmers' preferences between groups.

Farmers' approaches for defining characteristics were multivariate, and their preferences varied by site and country. Large fruit, a large bunch, market acceptability of the banana bunch, a sturdy stem, and an attractive appearance of the banana plant were the characteristics most preferred by farmers in Tanzania and Uganda. Tanzanian farmers preferred large bunches over other characteristics like bunch marketability and robust stem. Large fruit, drought tolerance, a strong stem, and phenotypic similarity to local cultivars were prioritized by Ugandan farmers. Both men and women farmers were more concerned with production-related characteristics, but the former valued marketing-related characteristics more, while the latter preferred use-related characteristics. Their preferences did not differ statistically, but the relative importance assigned by each group to the selected attributes was different.

Farmers' varietal preferences are frequently based on some assumed requirements, resulting in cultivar rejection or non-adoption. Therefore, determining the value attributed to each characteristic by various farmer groups is crucial in developing 'Matooke' banana cultivars with desired attributes that will boost the rate of adoption on-farms. Breeding initiatives that establish a system of integrated approaches and rely on thorough diagnosis of both production and consumption characteristics will best serve farmers' diverse preferences. To accomplish this, planning for varietal improvement initiatives at various levels—including internationally, regionally, nationally, and locally—would require a strong participatory structure that is gender inclusive.

Published in

Agriculture & Food Security
2023, Volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 2

      SLU Authors

    • Madalla, Noel

      • Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT
      • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
    • Sustainable Development Goals

      Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
      End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Genetics and Breeding
      Food Science

      Publication identifier


      Permanent link to this page (URI)