The Government of Grenada has enlisted 14 local farmers into a project that it hopes will “resuscitate the banana sector” in that country.
Last December the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands imported 10,000 of the William variety of tissue culture banana plantlets for injection into local production. The ministry then prepared, cared, and hardened off the plantlets at the Maran Plant Propagation Station for distribution to farmers.
On Thursday, June 25 the ministry handed over these plants to the farmers at the Maran Plant Propagation Station, allowing them to establish one acre each of tissue culture banana plants.
“We are trying to bring back the nutrition in our schools and feed our people. We want our people to eat local,” Minister of Agriculture and Lands Yolande Bain-Horsford stated during the handover 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,” she continued.
According to a press release, the project forms part of the Covid-19 Response and Mitigation Plan implemented by the ministry. A committee of six individuals from departments including extension, agronomy, land use and pest management assessed over 50 farms 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.
One of the farmers, 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,” he said.
“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,” another farmer, Ron Alexander, explained.
“This is a step in the right direction as it enhances our food security. It also urges us, banana farmers, to continue farming.”— Farmer Claudius Pierre from Grenada
Grenada’s Minister of Agriculture and Lands believes the disease-free plants will help revitalise the banana industry, which has experienced the negatively effects of the Black Sigatoka and other pests. To this end, the ministry endeavours to increase the number of the disease-free crops so that it can distribute them to other farmers.
Before the distribution of the plants, the ministry conducted two separate sessions of training for the benefit of the farmers. Each farmer received a total of 600 plantlets for propagation, and the ministry prepared two additional acres for distribution in the middle of July.
For Member of Parliament for St John Alvin Dabreo, who witnessed the handover of the plantlets, he believes there are tremendous benefits of developing the sector.
“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,” he opined.