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East African Highland bananas are triploid banana cultivars originating from East Africa. They are a staple food crop in Uganda and other east African countries and are used to make Matoke.

East African Highland bananas (commonly shortened to EAHB) are also known as the Mutika/Lujugira subgroup.


East African Highland bananas are easily distinguishable from other banana cultivars by the numerous black (or more rarely brown or bronze) blotches on their pseudostems, giving them the appearance of polished metal. The outermost sheath of their pseudostems are a medium green, superimposed over the pink to purple underlying sheaths.[2]

Their leaves are also darker green and dull, a difference more apparent when comparing them side by side with other banana cultivars from a distance.[2]

The inflorescence has peduncles covered with coarse hair. The bracts are ovate to lanceolate in shape with outer surfaces that are purple to brown and inner surfaces which are red fading to yellow towards the base. The male flowers have cream colored tepals with yellow lobes. The anthers are pink while the stigma are orange.[2]

The fruits are recurved and can vary in length. They are inflated with blunt tips. The pulp is white in unripe fruits and cream colored in ripe fruits.[2]


East African Highland bananas are triploid (AAA) cultivars. Their official designation is Musa acuminata Colla (AAA-EA). Synonyms include Musa brieyi De Wild. Their paternal parent is the blood banana subspecies (Musa acuminata ssp. zebrina) of the wild banana species Musa acuminata.[1]

East African Highland bananas are a subgroup and refers to about 200 individual banana cultivars (or clones).[1] They can be subdivided into five distinct groups of clones known as clone sets:

  • Mbidde or Beer clone set
The Mbidde clone set contains 14 cultivars. Mbidde means ‘beer’ and clones belonging to this clone set are usually used for making banana beer.[3] Their pulp are bitter and astringent with sticky brown excretions.[2]
  • Nakitembe clone set
  • Nakabululu clone set
Nakabululu clones are soft-textured and savory. They mature quickly but their fruits are smaller and have lesser overall yields per bunch.[4]
  • Musakala clone set
Musakala clones are characterized by slender fruits with bottle-necked tips. Other characteristics the same as the preceding three clone sets.[2]
  • Nfuuka clone set
Nfuuka clones are characterized by inflated, rounded, or almost rectangular fruits with intermediate shaped tips. The bunch shape is mainly rectangular. Other characteristics the same as the last four clone sets.[2] It is the most diverse of the five clone sets, a probable result of its tendency to mutate more frequently. They bear heavy compacted bunches and are thus more often exploited commercially than other clone sets.[4]

Origin and distribution

East African Highland bananas were introduced early into Africa from Southeast Asia during the 1st to 6th century AD, probably via trade. They are genetically distinct from the other AAA cultivars, having evolved locally in the East African region for over a millennium. They are found nowhere else in the world and East Africa has been called the secondary center of banana diversity because of this (with Southeast Asia being the first). East African Highland bananas are especially diverse in Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda.[1][3]

Economic importance

East African Highland bananas are one of the most important staple food crops in East Africa. particularly for Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. Per capita annual consumption of bananas in Uganda is the highest in the world at 0.70 kg (1.5 lb) daily per person.[5] Including Rwanda and Burundi, consumption is about 250 to 400 kg (550 to 880 lb) per person annually (about 3 to 11 bananas each day).[6] Uganda itself is the second largest producer of bananas in the world. It is, however, one of the smallest exporters, the crops being intended mostly for domestic consumption.[5]

East African Highland bananas are so important as food crops that matoke, the traditional meal made from steamed bananas, is synonymous for the word “food” in Uganda.[7][8]

Written on June 6th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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