Gitogo Kiiru Banana

Slow Food Presidium

Kenya

Central

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

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Gitogo Kiiru Banana

Gitogo kiiru is a banana variety that thrives in fertile, well-drained loam soils of the Central part of Kenya, specifically in the Kirinyaga County located in the southern area of Mount Kenya.
The fruits are shorter and plumper than the average banana. The skin is deep red or maroon when ripe and the flesh is cream colored or light pink. Kiiru means “black,” and refers to the fact that the banana’s color is not bright.

Gitogo kiiru banana trees are propagated with suckers, usually at the beginning of the rainy season (late March to early April). Pieces of the corm with one or two eyes can also be used. A pit (1x1x1 meter) is prepared and then the topsoil is mixed with manure or compost. The sucker is planted in this mixture at a depth of 30 centimeters. Dry matter is used to mulch the banana sucker to ensure moisture retention. Tools and equipment used include the panga (machete), jembe (hoe), spade, wheelbarrow, and watering can. The tree takes about 18 months to start producing fruit, and the fruits themselves take about 3 months to be ready for harvest, though gitogo bananas are harvested at varying stages of maturity depending on market requirements. For home consumption, the bunch is cut from the stem after the fingers begin to ripen. At this stage the fruits will ripen fully within 1-2 weeks. The gitogo kiiru variety is cultivated mainly for home consumption. Excess bananas are sold informally to generate some income but, due to its decline, this variety is no longer found in markets.

Gitogo kiiru bananas are sweet (some have a slight mango flavor, while others are more earthy). They are eaten in the same way as yellow bananas, by peeling the fruit before eating. They are frequently eaten whole, chopped, or added to fruit salads, but can also be baked, fried, or roasted. The bananas can be mashed together with lablab beans and served during special occasions. They are sometimes sold dried. Among the Gikuyu people, gitogo kiiru bananas are the main ingredient in traditional dishes such as mukimo, itaha, and salads that are served during important occasions such as wedding ceremonies, bridewealth payment ceremonies, and initiations.

The gitogo kiiru banana is appreciated in the Gikuyu community due to its high nutrient content. The ripe bananas are given to nursing mothers to restore their strength. Bananas planted on the way up to and at entrance of the house are a sign of respect and welcome for visitors during weddings and other social functions. Often, important visitors are given a bunch of gitogo kiiru bananas as a sign of respect.

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The gitogo kiiru banana faces the threat of extinction as cultural erosion has resulted in the loss of knowledge related to its cultivation among younger generations. The emergence of tissue culture has prompted the adoption of hybrid varieties with quicker maturation, overshadowing traditional ones. The presidium is committed to assisting producers in safeguarding this native banana type and transmitting the cultivation knowledge.

Production Area:
Kirinyaga County, Central Kenya

Supported by
Biovision Foundation
The Presidium unify 25 producers from the Gikuyu community:
Mary Wambui, Elizabeth Wanjiku, Mercy Njeri, Gladys Kanegeni, Grace Muthii, Terry Kinyua, Faith Miano, Lea Njoki, Quren Munene, Edwin Macharia, Teresiah Wangui, Judy Wangeci, Sicily Muriuki, Nancy Ndege, Mary Wangeci, Hilda Wanjiku, Lydia Wangeci, Jemima Wanjiru, Phylis Wambura, Martha Mithamo, Joel Macharia,Alice Wairimu, Helen Njagi, Charles Macharia, Alice Ng’en
Producers Coordinator
Charles Macharia
+254722116682
The gitogo kiiru banana faces the threat of extinction as cultural erosion has resulted in the loss of knowledge related to its cultivation among younger generations. The emergence of tissue culture has prompted the adoption of hybrid varieties with quicker maturation, overshadowing traditional ones. The presidium is committed to assisting producers in safeguarding this native banana type and transmitting the cultivation knowledge.

Production Area:
Kirinyaga County, Central Kenya

Supported by
Biovision Foundation
The Presidium unify 25 producers from the Gikuyu community:
Mary Wambui, Elizabeth Wanjiku, Mercy Njeri, Gladys Kanegeni, Grace Muthii, Terry Kinyua, Faith Miano, Lea Njoki, Quren Munene, Edwin Macharia, Teresiah Wangui, Judy Wangeci, Sicily Muriuki, Nancy Ndege, Mary Wangeci, Hilda Wanjiku, Lydia Wangeci, Jemima Wanjiru, Phylis Wambura, Martha Mithamo, Joel Macharia,Alice Wairimu, Helen Njagi, Charles Macharia, Alice Ng’en
Producers Coordinator
Charles Macharia
+254722116682

Territory

StateKenya
RegionCentral