The resurgence of banana production stands to benefit as the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands implements a pilot project in Grenada, which allows 14 farmers to establish one acre each of Tissue Culture Banana Plants.
Over 10,000 William Variety Tissue Culture Plantlets were imported from Israel, last December, to increase production.
These plantlets were then prepared, cared, and handed off 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.
“We are trying to bring back the nutrition in our schools and feed our people. We want our people to eat local,” said the Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Hon Yolande Bain-Horsford, as she handed out 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 neighboring islands,” she added.
Parliamentary Representative for Saint John, Hon Alvin Dabreo, who witnessed the handing over, said there are tremendous benefits of developing such a sector. “You can make so many things from it,” he said.
“You see dried bananas in cereal, they are now making Banana Flour and there are many things you can do from the dried straw of the plant. It is tremendous, the amount of potential this sector has, and we must capitalize on that.”
This project forms part of the COVID-19 Response and Mitigation Plan, being implemented by the Ministry. A committee comprising of six from departments including extension, agronomy, land use and pest management, assessed over 50 farms through-out Grenada, belonging to farmers that expressed interest in the banana plants. The committee then shortlisted a total of fourteen farmers that met the criteria to receive the plants.
Claudius Pierre, involved in banana production for over thirty 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 plant, so, we do not have to worry about the Moko Disease. The six hundred plants will indeed give us a big push,” expressed another 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 continue to be distributed to additional farmers.
Before the distribution of the plants, the Ministry conducted two separate sessions of training for the benefiting farmers. Each farmer received a total of six hundred plantlets for propagation, while a further two 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.