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Minister urges farmers to be professional

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Farmers in the country have been urged to be professional and take farming as a business if they are to be successful.

Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, George Chaponda, made the call on Thursday at Namazoma Village in Traditional Authority Mabuka’s area in Mulanje during the launch of disease-free banana planting materials.

Chaponda said government is currently promoting the growing of different crops in the country including bananas noting that it is a source of income for a lot of farmers in the areas it is grown the most.

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The minister further said it was for that reason that government decided to bring into the country new banana varieties to replace the old one which has been heavily affected by banana bunch-top disease which has reduced banana hectares in the country from about 25,000 to 12,000 hectares.

“The banana bunch-top disease was first noted in 1994 and it has over the years affected the growth of bananas in the country, hence government, idea to bring in the new variety to make sure that the country keeps on producing enough and good quality bananas,”he explained.

Chaponda urged farmers to uproot all infected bananas to protect the new varieties.

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World Bank Senior Agriculture Specialist, Valens Mwumvaneza, noted that the disease has affected people’s livelihoods as they relied upon it for business.

He assured the farmers to trust the process saying it will benefit them as it helped farmers in his home country, Rwanda, which between 1997 and 2005 was also affected by the disease but the industry was revamped through the same process.

“This is a very important process as it will bring back the good quality bananas that people used to enjoy. And this is a great and quality ariety that if taken care of, can produce a bunch weighing up to 150kgs,” he said.

One of the farmers, Patrick Masipidi, thanked government for considering them as it will help farmers who solely rely on bananas for survival.

Over K200 million has been pumped into the project by the multi-donor fund and World Bank through the Agricultural Sector Wide Approach Programme. About 627 commercial farmers are expected to benefit from 63,000 new plants that are being distributed in Mulanje, Thyolo and later Nkhata Bay and Nkhotakota

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