Mulching using banana leaves [Uganda]

Labolo Ma Kipo Mwanyi

technologies_2757 - Uganda

Completeness: 86%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

land user:

Ongai Andrew



Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
Scaling-up SLM practices by smallholder farmers (IFAD)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
CDE Centre for Development and Environment (CDE Centre for Development and Environment) - Switzerland

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?



The farmer confessed that when he uses dry banana leaves, the leaves rot and provides manure which is utilized by bananas retaining the moisture content in the soil.

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Dry banana leaves are spread in the soil for growing banana plantation for improving soil fertility and moisture content retention.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Locally obtained dry banana leaves is a low cost mulching material used by farmers in Northern Uganda to mulch soil in order to grow banana with the aim of improving soil fertility and soil moisture content retention.
The land user identifies a banana plantation usually 0.5 to 2 acres planted with sweet banana, Bogoya, Fear 17 varieties and spread the banana leaves across the banana plantation usually below 40-60 cm to the mother plant using 2-4 people per day, hoes and pangas.
Mulching is preferred because it uses locally available banana leaves within the plantation. It does not require high maintenance costs to pay for labor, digging and transport. Costs would be incurred transporting the mulching material. In addition to conserving moisture in the soils, it reduces water runoff to avoid erosion and improves the soil as the mulch material rots.
However, it is important for the land user to be aware that mulching using banana leaves serve as breeding place for banana weevils and if the land user places the mulch too close to the mother plant it will affect the growth of the young suckers. This therefore means land users who need to use this low cost mulching material need to first work out proper procedures with the extension worker on how to mulch banana plantation before mulching.
To sustain this technology, the land users can integrate cultivating multipurpose tree species (Calliandra and Grivellea) to additionally stabilize the soils and improve soil fertility when the tree mature and leaves litter.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.4 Videos of the Technology

Comments, short description:

Video on mulching using banana leaves in Nwoya District.




Bwobo village, Bowbo parish, Alero Sub-county Nwoya District.

Name of videographer:

Issa Aiga

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Northern Region,Uganda

Further specification of location:

Nwoya District

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

Map showing technology site in Northern Uganda.

2.6 Date of implementation

Indicate year of implementation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Supported by Nothern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) with training on how to mulch using banana leaves.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • reduce, prevent, restore land degradation
  • mitigate climate change and its impacts

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Perennial (non-woody) cropping - Specify crops:
  • banana/plantain/abaca
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • coffee, open grown
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 2

The land user grows coffee and Banana for home consumption and sale.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • minimal soil disturbance
  • integrated soil fertility management
  • water harvesting

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

agronomic measures

agronomic measures

  • A1: Vegetation/ soil cover
  • A2: Organic matter/ soil fertility
structural measures

structural measures

  • S7: Water harvesting/ supply/ irrigation equipment

Technology involves spreading/ laying out of the mulching material for soil moisture retention and soil fertility improvement.

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by water

soil erosion by water

  • Wt: loss of topsoil/ surface erosion
  • Wg: gully erosion/ gullying
soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
physical soil deterioration

physical soil deterioration

  • Pc: compaction
biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bc: reduction of vegetation cover
water degradation

water degradation

  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water
  • Hg: change in groundwater/aquifer level

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

Decomposition of mulched material increases fertility in turn responding to reduced land degradation.

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology





4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology area
Indicate size and area unit:

2 acres

other/ national currency (specify):


If relevant, indicate exchange rate from USD to local currency (e.g. 1 USD = 79.9 Brazilian Real): 1 USD =:


Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Site selection Once before before establishment
2. look for inputs (labour) Once before establishment
3. Cut the banana leaves During establishment
4. Lay the banana leaves During establishment

Cutting banana leaves and spreading them can be a routine activity that the farmer continues to do.

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Persons days employed on monthly basis persons 10.0 70000.0 700000.0 100.0
Equipment Hoes Pieces 10.0 10000.0 100000.0 100.0
Equipment Pangas Pieces 5.0 7000.0 35000.0 100.0
Other Training costs (transport) sessions 3.0 30000.0 90000.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 925000.0

The money that the farmer use for these activities is income received from the sale of banana.

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Re-mulching Twice a year

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Persons days on monthly basis Persons 4.0 150000.0 600000.0 100.0
Fertilizers and biocides 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 600000.0

High costs of labour for estsblishment activities with more tasks compared to maintenance costs which are rather low.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

Labour for cutting and laying the banana leaves is the most important factor affecting costs.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specify average annual rainfall (if known), in mm:


Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

More rains during the wet season (March-May) with long dry spell around June - August.

Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Indicate if the Technology is specifically applied in:
  • concave situations

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:


Water quality (untreated):

good drinking water

Is water salinity a problem?


Is flooding of the area occurring?


5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low
Habitat diversity:
  • low

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Sedentary or nomadic:
  • Sedentary
Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • less than 10% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Age of land users:
  • youth
  • middle-aged

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • individual

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production

Comments/ specify:

As result of integration and application of manure from littered leaves of banana.

land management

Comments/ specify:

The farmer uses mulch material from the same garden that is mulching.

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Expenses only incurred on purchase of pangas which are not high. Labour costs are high.

farm income

Comments/ specify:

From the sale of matooke.


Comments/ specify:

Reduced labour and costs required on farm after mulching.

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency

Comments/ specify:

With Mulching , the farmer is able to realise more bananas produced which makes him food secure. Even the money obtained from sale of banana is used to buy food like posho and beans.

national institutions

Comments/ specify:

Especially with NUSAF which supported the farmer with trainings.

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

Trained by Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) and extension workers on mulching using bananas.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

harvesting/ collection of water

Comments/ specify:

Retained by mulch material.

surface runoff


soil moisture


soil cover

Comments/ specify:

Due to mulch material.

soil organic matter/ below ground C

Comments/ specify:

Due to decomposed mulch.

Climate and disaster risk reduction

landslides/ debris flows


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability

Comments/ specify:

Retained by the mulch material.

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase moderately
seasonal temperature dry season increase
annual rainfall increase moderately

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought moderately

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly positive

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:



Benefits are low in the short term with more labour costs for cutting and laying grass mulch while in the long run, less labour costs and more benefits (reduced soil erosion, increased production) resulting from decomposed mulch material.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • 1-10%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):


Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

6.6 Adaptation

Has the Technology been modified recently to adapt to changing conditions?


If yes, indicate to which changing conditions it was adapted:
  • changing markets
Specify adaptation of the Technology (design, material/ species, etc.):

Established a local collection centre for marketing bananas to avoid exploitation.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Good for soil moisture retention and soil fertility improvement.
Maintenance costs are low in the long run.
Uses locally available mulch material which is easily accessible in the plantation.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
The technology is appropriate for both small scale and large scale land users with a banana plantation.
The technology can easily be promoted and replicated by other farmers in other areas.
Once established, its easy to manage and mentain as long as labour is available at affordable cost.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Prolonged drought affects the banana which may affect the quantity and quality of mulching material. Integrate agrofrestry trees within the banana plantation (Grivellea and Calliandra).
Labour Intensive associated with high costs in case the farmer has 10 acres and more. Work in groups and exchange labour.
Wind affects banana production which may affect the quality of mulching material. Promote agroforestry trees (Callindra, Grivellea 0 within the technology to acts as soil fertility improving trees and wind breaks.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Prolonged drought affects the Banana yield and therefore may not be a solution to poor farmers, Promote agroforestry tree planting (calliandra, Grivellea) that addresses climatic change issues.
Requires a lot of labour. Engage labour on monthly basis.
Attract thieves who may want to eat and sell. Strengthen Community local bylaws.
If found stealing or encroaching pay 2 times the equivalent of what has been stolen.
The technology is mostly affected by wind. Promote agroforestry trees as wind breakers on the farm.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


When were the data compiled (in the field)?


Links and modules

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