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Over 2,500 banana farmers still waiting for clean plants

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Five months after the Malawi Government initiated distribution of clean banana suckers amid the devastating banana bunchy top virus, over 2500 banana farmers in Thyolo are yet to received the seedlings.

According to one of the farmers, Frazier Mathewe of Jeremiah Village, Tradition Authority Thomas in Thyolo, the farmers have no idea why the government is delaying to provide them with the clean seedlings.

He said this rain season could be the best time to replant the seedlings.

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Thyolo District Agricultural Development Officer (Dado), Raphael Mkisi conceded that the initiative is facing challenges.

“Initially, the farmers were supposed to be receiving five seedlings each. But due to other factors, some farmers are receiving more than that. We had to consider farmers who were doing considerably well in terms of taking care of the seedlings we were giving them. The other factor was that other farmers have big land and they asked to be considered as five seedlings are not enough,” he said.

Mkisi said the development has resulted into some farmers not receiving the improved cultivars in time.

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Mkisi also mentioned of Bvumbwe Research Station where the banana plantlets are technically and scientifically being multiplied as having little space to produce more suckers at once to disburse to the farmers.

The Thyolo Dado said they intended to reach about 6,000 farmers in the district by November this year but they have only managed to reach 3821 farmers so far.

The suckers are currently being disbursed to three pilot areas of Traditional Authorities Nsabwe, Mphuka and Mbawela in the district.

He said as of October 31, 25,942 clean suckers had been disbursed.

After the banana bunchy top virus raided the fields in Thyolo 1,842 banana farming families were rendered destitute.

Government through the Ministry of Irrigation Water and Development and the Department of Agriculture Research Services in 2015 bought 65,000 banana plantlets respectively, from South Africa.

Those are the plantlets being reproduced at the station.

The first report of the disease dates back to 1994 at Thiwi in Nkhotakota one of the four major banana producing districts.

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