Good Practices

Banana intercropping in sloping land [Lao People's Democratic Republic]

Definition of the Technology:

In mountain regions of Laos Banana cultivated with intercrops during the first year of plantation led to mutually better plant growth by higher availability of soil nutrients and subsequently produces better yield. It also prevents soil erosion, air pollution (reduction of slash and burn cultivation) and it mitigates climate related drought.


The banana provides significant benefits for the households in the uplands of Lao PDR. It serves for own consumption and for selling to generate regular household income. Its leaves are wanted on the market as well and can therefore generate good income too. Besides its low maintenance cost and easy to grow, banana can retain soil moisture and complement with ecology and biodiversity, on condition that its cultivation sustainable. Currently, the banana consumption in the region is increasing and results in banana expansion in the upland areas of Lao PDR. By tradition during the first year of banana plantation the local land users of Samouy district, Saravan province, Lao PDR cultivated banana intercropped with other upland crops (potentially with upland rice and maize) . However, the farmers implemented this cultivation technique without exact planning, measurement, in unorganized rows, or inadequate size of the hole. Also the poor maintenance after planting led to low banana productivity. In 2010, a Project supported by IFAD encouraged local people to grow banana with provision of technical advice through training and implementation. Banana plantation method recommended by the Project is following:1. Site selection: the land area with slope between 10-20 percent and rich loamy soils.2. Spacing and digging of holes: farmers arrange banana plants in lines and rows with spacing of 3m x 3m. 3. Dimension of hole: 25cm x 25cm with a depth of 30cm.3.Soil amendments: If the fertility of soil is low, manure (3 – 5kg/hole) has to be added on the bottom of the holes.4. Intercrops during first year of planation: Between the banana’s rows upland crops can be seeded in regular rows. This helps to prevent soil erosion during the first year.5. Maintenance: Regular thinning and cutting of the banana branches are required after planting to get good yield. Thinning may also involve removal of excess banana suckers if there are more than 3-4 shoots per hole.6. Farmers are required to maintain banana plantation areas including regular weeding as well as soil amendment (animal manure) to promote successful banana production. Covering the soil constantly with banana leaves is one of the most important activities to maintain the soil’s fertility (prevent soil leaching), structure and moisture, to improve the soil life, to lessen the burden of weeding and to prevent soil erosion. Chemical pesticides and fungicides are not foreseen to be used in this practice.7. After harvest of the intercrops: After the first year, when the maize or upland rice has been harvested, banana suckers will be planted in the rows on the remaining space between the one year old banana trees.In summary, this method of banana planting in sloping areas is simple and with average of 3-4 million Kip per household per year it generates good and regular income for the households. Banana provides fruits all year round that can be sold throughout the year whilst demand is also increasing. Currently, the average of the banana plantation area is approximately 10 ha per household. In addition, banana is tolerant to drought. Banana leaves spread over the soil (mulching) keep the soil moist provide best nutrients for soil organisms. And supplement amendment in form of animal manure improves the nutrient recharge. The soil cover improved to some extent from the beginning by the improved intercrop method according to the criteria learned by the project. However, the workload increased due to improved maintenance of banana.


Lao People's Democratic Republic

Region/ State/ Province: Samouy district of Salavan province

Specify the spread of the Technology: evenly spread over an area

If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered: 0.1-1 km2

For mor detials

Source: LaoCAT, NAFRI, MAF

Author: LaoCAT, WOCAT