In central Uganda, in spite of poor soils and high pest pressure, bananas are a primary source of household food and income. Farmers are increasingly challenged by the need to maintain banana productivity and to expand production for nearby markets. Traditional inputs - grass mulch, crop residue and animal manure - have become scarce and expensive. We posed the question of whether on-farm trees and shrubs can be used as a source of fodder and mulch, and for improved soil and microclimate could be harnessed to improve banana productivity. A survey was conducted in three districts of the Central Region of Uganda - Kiboga, Sembabule and Nakaseke - to characterize bananas, livestock, trees and shrubs on farms, and the linkages among these components in farm productivity. In each district, 70 households were interviewed and field sampling was conducted on the farms of 30 of these. Across the three districts, farms varied in their land area, in the numbers of banana mats, trees and shrubs they contained, and in ownership of ruminant animals. They also differed in their hiring or selling of labour, the use of mulch on the banana crop and whether or not the crop was grown under tree shade. A total of 49 tree species was counted, with Ficus natalensis, Albizia coriaria, Markhamia lutea, Mangifera indica and Persea americana being the most common. Farmers readily identified good neighbour trees for banana (Ficus natalensis and Albizia coriaria), tree-friendly banana cultivars - which included 'Kibuzi', 'Ndibwabalangira' 'Nakitembe', 'Mbwazirume' and 'Nakabululu' East African Highland Bananas (EAHB; AAA-EA group), and numerous trees and shrubs that are useful as fodder. From the survey, we concluded that banana crops and trees coexist on the same farm. However, few households make systematic use of trees and shrubs as mulch or animal fodder to increase manure supplies, and neither do they manage tree canopies to improve the microclimate for bananas. Certain households are endowed with more land, livestock and on-farm trees with which to undertake agroforestry strategies to improve banana productivity. A technology innovation approach to develop options for less resource-endowed households should draw on three elements: participatory experimentation incorporating current farmer knowledge and practice in a science-based agro-ecological framework; field studies on management principles for banana agroforestry; and models to understand medium-term biological interactions and farm household technology choices.