Globally, interests to increase carbon stocks have gained momentum in both woody and non-woody ecosystems. Despite efforts made to generate appropriate methods to estimate these stocks, most equations developed do not cater for intraspecific variabilities across e.g. species, regions or growth stages; especially in the case of bananas. Therefore, there is need to develop more robust equations to improve on the precision of biomass-carbon prediction especially at local scales to facilitate estimation of specific carbon stocks often lost in global assessments. This study aimed at developing cultivar-specific biomass estimation relationships and determining carbon content of EAHB cultivars at two growth stages. Plant data were collected purposively using destructive sampling techniques on farmers’ plots for 4 cultivars (Kibuzi, Nakitembe, Enyeru and Nakinyika) in two agro-ecological zones: the L. Victoria crescent and the South-western farmlands in the districts of Lwengo and Mbarara respectively. Results show that biomass differed across cultivars (P<0.001); hence four equations (Enyeru, Nakinyika, Kibuzi_Nakitembe and Generic) were developed following an exponential function, y=Aexp(ax), using diameter at breast height (DBH) as the predictor variable with an R2 range of 82-94%. EAHB mean carbon content varied significantly with growth stage (P<0.05) (47.6% for maiden plants before flowering and 48.8% for mature plants with a developed bunch). This study concludes that it is important to develop cultivar-specific equations for biomass-carbon estimation of EAHB cultivars to help assess their contribution to the carbon cycle especially in future studies.
Key words: East African Highland Bananas (EAHB) cultivars, allometric equations, total plant biomass, carbon content, growth stage.