By Dalitso Kampira
Thyolo, Mana: Agriculture Sector Wide Approach ll (ASWAP II) Project, through its Crops Department, has been distributing banana suckers to farmers in Thyolo in the recent past as one way of reviving cultivation of the crop in the district.
In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) on Tuesday, Thyolo ASWAP Desk Officer, Richard Thole, said the initiative started in 2016 to revamp banana cultivation and improve livelihoods of communities in the district.
Banana production in Thyolo significantly went down following harsh attack on the plantation by Banana Bunchy Top (Chisaka) disease.
“Thyolo is known for favourite varieties of bananas and by revamping the crop, it means farmers will yield more,” Thole said.
He said through the project, farmers were now selling their bananas in Blantyre and other areas from where they bring substantial amounts of money to support their families.
“They are making progress by selling the bananas as fruits. Others get income as they sell the banana suckers while a banana bunch is selling at K11, 000 or K12, 000,” he said.
The ASWAP Desk Officer said the project encourages farmers to uproot the old banana varieties affected by the Banana Bunchy Top (Chisaka) disease to increase chances of getting new clean suckers.
One of the farmers, Connex Diverson of Namakhwa Model Village in Masambanjati Extension Planning Area (EPA), expressed gratitude for the timely project, saying it is alleviating some of the challenges banana farming communities were facing.
“One hundred and twenty one (121) households have managed to buy iron sheets, bicycles, paid school fees and are rearing livestock like goats through the money from banana sales in my village (Namakhwa),” he said.
The project operates in all the district’s six EPAs namely: Masambanjati, Thekerani, Khonjeni, Matapwata, Dwale and Thyolo centre, but with only 17 specific model villages in the district.