Saturday, December 18, 2010

Going Bananas!

Bananas are one of the very few things in which Angola is self sufficient. There are thousands of hectares of both dessert and plantain (cooking) banana plantations, mostly in the southern province of Benguela, but they also grow wild up in Uíge.
Bananas, however, are quite difficult to grow commercially on a small scale. They are perishable and fragile, so need to be handled with care. Clumsy transportation can cause blemishes, which is unattractive to customers. Logistical problems such as a lack of good transport, bad roads and a congested port all add to the difficulties of getting high quality fruit into the marketplace, and exportation compounds these challenges.

Because of the high levels of waste, bananas grown in Angola are not cheap. A trial export deal with the South African-based supermarket chain Shoprite failed because the company could import bananas into Angola for less than it was paying for them locally. However, exports could soon become a reality with Angolan bananas being sold in European supermarkets and beyond.

In order to assist in economic development amongst small farms run by individual Angola farmers, efforts have been initiated to grow the banana production on a smaller scale. The Co-operative League of the United States of America (Clusa), thanks to funding from USAID and Chevron, is working with small farm-holders in Benguela to help them increase their yields and to set up co-operatives to boost their buying and selling powers. Banana production in the Benguela area represents about 10 tons per hectare in traditional production, with the commercial farms using modern technology yeild 80 tons per hectare.

“The challenge is to increase the yield,” says Estêvão Rodrigues, Clusa’s Angola representative. “By using better plants, taking better care of them and by moving from flood irrigation to micro-sprinkle irrigation, you can increase yields from 25 tonnes a hectare to 50. I definitely think bananas will do well here, especially if the exporting mechanisms are put in place".

“Once we get the banana sector going, there’s hope for other fruit too, like pineapples and citrus fruit. It’s a big hope.” (Sonangol Universo Magazine)

1 comment:

Rajkumar Elayaperumal said...

Banana Exporters of Angola are greatly supported and advised to produce bananas on smaller scale initially, as this can be expanded in to bigger scale in forth coming years.