Ministry promotes banana production, to curb imports

Ministry promotes banana production, to curb imports

Post was last updated: March 14, 2023

Ministry of Agriculture has reaffirmed its commitment to promote banana farming to improve availability at a time the country is flooded with banana imports from neighbouring Mozambique and Tanzania.

The ministry’s deputy director of crop development (horticulture) Eviness Nyalugwe said this on Friday in Lilongwe during the planting of over 100 banana suckers at Chaminade Marianist Secondary School under school banana orchard initiative which the ministry will implement in the country’s schools with support from the Chinese Government.

The initiative comes at a time figures from the ministry show that the country imports more than 20 000 metric tonnes of bananas monthly.

Nyalugwe said the ministry is concerned with the continued importation of bananas; hence, its decision to promote the planting of bananas in schools.

Locally grown bananas could curb import from Mozambique and Tanzania, she said: “Currently, our country is importing a lot of bananas from Tanzania and even Mozambique, therefore, we have thought of increasing the production area of the bananas in the country.

“Most of the times we normally involve adults to grow the bananas, but this time around we have decided to also involve young people, especially students in primary and secondary schools across Malawi.”

Nyalugwe expressed confidence that involving the schools in the cultivation of bananas would help to increase its availability, thereby reducing imports and saving foreign exchang of bananas in the country.

“We believe that when we target these youths in schools they will have that spirit of growing bananas and this would reduce or stop the importation of bananas in the country,” she said.

Chaminade Marianist Secondary School principal Brother Duncan Onyango thanked the Ministry of Agriculture for considering his school to be part of the initiative.

He said he will ensure the newly planted bananas are well cared for to achieve the desired goal.

In February this year, Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) president Maness Nkhata called for intensified efforts to revive banana production to save the country from losing foreign exchange.

“This implies that resuscitation of the value chain will result in import substitution and will more importantly revive livelihoods for the banana farmers,” she said in an interview.

Nkhata said farmers are also struggling to afford clean and disease-free banana suckers, urging government to support farmers to enable them access clean planting materials.

“Considering that most of the disease-free banana planting materials are produced from the improved tissue culture, their prices are beyond the reach of most farmers,” she said.

Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project II (Aswap SP II) national coordinator Henry Msatilomu is on record as having decried huge importation of bananas from neighbouring countries.

He said: “It is clear that the banana industry is disturbed. We have people in Mulanje and Thyolo whose livelihoods solely depended on bananas.

“It is in our interest to contribute to the rehabilitation of the banana industry.”

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture shows that about 70 percent or 30 000 hectares of the country’s banana production area was lost due to the disease

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