BUJUMBURA September 3rd (ABP) – Banana farmers are appealed to properly maintain their crops for a good harvest, according to the head of the plant production program at the Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Burundi (ISABU), Mr. Célestin Niyongere, in an interview he gave to the check by ABP.
Mr. Niyongere said that the maintenance of banana plants is a good thing to do. A tuft of more than 20 plants is like a woman who gives birth to 20 children and gives them only one plate of food, which means that those plants lack enough food and become stunted. Thus, they will compete for light, and that is why they are very slender and produce small diets, he explains. He said that the combination of diseases is still there, but that the big issue lies in the maintenance.
According to Mr. Niyongere, ISABU is teaching people about the banana rehabilitation approach, so that the plantations can be properly maintained. Under normal conditions, a tuft should have 3 banana plants, that is, the mother plant, the daughter plant that will follow after 6 months and one after the flowering of the mother plant. He added that the approach of the three plants will allow to ensure the food of the plant and to have relatively large diets as well as benefiting the space. He also pointed out that banana can make the farmer rich or poor. It makes him poor when the farmer maintains banana badly with tufts of 50 plants or 100 plants. At this moment, the tufts will occupy all the space without producing anything. In addition, there will be a lack of space for other food crops such as beans, maize, cocoyam, and so on. Following that maintenance issue, some varieties have succumbed, which means that there has been a problem of biodiversity.
Mr. Niyongere continued to say that banana includes dessert, cooking, juice and plantain varieties (umuzuzu). So there is a tendency to lose that diversity, and because of diseases, some varieties are gradually disappearing. That is why ISABU reintroduced more than 256 other varieties.
The issue that haunts that institution is to know who will finance the multiplication of those varieties. With funding from the Farming Sector Development Program (PRODEFI), ISABU distributed 70,000 seedlings of different varieties and 100,000 seedlings last year in the Kayanza, Ngozi and Gitega provinces. He pointed out that those distributed seedlings are very few in relation to the needs. He hopes that they will do a national project for the rehabilitation and enrichment of banana germplasm because it is a crop of great economic importance.
Another problem in Burundi is that Burundians are not ready to buy banana plants, even if the multiplication would be made at ISABU, he says. They sick to the tradition of using their seed instead of buying new plants.