Banana production is on the cusp of a resurgence, as the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands implements a pilot project in Grenada, which allows 14 local farmers to establish one acre each of tissue culture banana plants.
Over 10,000 of the William variety of tissue culture plantlets were imported from Israel last December, for injection into local production. These plantlets were then prepared, cared, and hardened off at the Maran Plant Propagation Station, for distribution to farmers. On Thursday, 25 June the ministry handed over these plants to the farmers at the Maran Plant Propagation Station.
“We are trying to bring back the nutrition in our schools and feed our people. We want our people to eat local,” said Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Hon. Yolande Bain-Horsford, who was on hand for the handing over of the plants to farmers. “This project would be able to help farmers. We are trying to resuscitate the banana sector. We don’t want to continue importing bananas from neighbouring islands.”
Parliamentary Representative for St John, Hon. Alvin Dabreo, who witnessed the handing over, said that there are tremendous benefits of developing such a sector. “You can make so many things from it,” Hon. Dabreo said. “You see dried bananas in cereal. They are now making banana flour and there are many things you can do from the straw of the banana. It is tremendous, the amount of potential this sector has, and we have to capitalise on that.”
This project forms part of the Covid-19 Response and Mitigation Plan, being implemented by the ministry. A committee comprising of 6 from departments including extension, agronomy, land use and pest management, assessed over 50 farms throughout Grenada, belonging to farmers that expressed interest in the plants. The committee then shortlisted a total of 14 farmers that met the criteria to receive the plants.
Claudius Pierre, involved in banana production for over 30 years, welcomed the donation. “This is a step in the right direction, as it enhances our food security. It also urges us, banana farmers, to continue farming. We have experienced the Moko Disease with our bananas in past years, so tissue culture is always welcomed by us.”
“We know that we have clean plants, so, we do not have to worry about the Moko Disease. The 600 plants will indeed give us a big push,” explained farmer, Ron Alexander.
The disease-free plants will aid in resuscitating the banana industry, which has been negatively affected due to the Black Sigatoka and other pests. The ministry is aiming for the multiplication of the disease-free crops that can be distributed to additional farmers.
Before the distribution of the plants, the ministry conducted 2 separate sessions of training for the benefiting farmers. Each farmer received a total of 600 plantlets for propagation, while a further 2 acres are being prepared by the ministry for distribution in the middle of July.
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands – ensuring food and nutrition security for all.
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