Despite the global interest to increase the world's carbon stocks, most carbon sequestration strategies have largely depended on woody ecosystems whose production is threatened by the continuous shortage of land, hence the need to explore viable alternatives. The potential of bananas to sequester carbon has been reported but there is limited knowledge on the performance of various cultivars as specific carbon stocks are often lost in global assessments. Therefore, this study aimed at exploring the potential of and variability in carbon stocks of selected East African Highland Banana (EAHB) cultivars. Plant and soil data were collected using destructive and non-destructive techniques in 30×30m2 sampling plots for 4 cultivars Kibuzi, Nakitembe, Enyeru and Nakinyika growing in two agro-ecological zones of Uganda being the L.Victoria Crescent and the South-western region. Total carbon and Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) stocks did not differ considerably across cultivars (P>0.05). However, there was significant variation (P<0.05) in plant carbon stock being lowest in two cultivars: Nakinyika at 0.37±0.19 Mgha-1 and Nakitembe at 0.40±0.19Mgha-1; and highest in Enyeru at 1.64±0.18 Mgha-1. The SOC stock variation difference across depth was 2.9-8.5 Mgha-1 being higher in top soil than sub-soil. Despite the small plant carbon stock amounts, the system enables much more carbon to be stored in the soil considering the proportion of what is contained in the plant to that in the soil across all cultivars (0.4-2%). The study therefore recommends revision of existing carbon frameworks to incorporate the contribution of non-woody perennials like bananas in the carbon cycle so that the poor small scale farmers who cannot afford large acreages to establish tree plantations can also benefit from such initiatives.
Key words: Agro-ecological zone, growth stage, carbon stock, cultivars, SOC
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