CHIPINGE — More than 200 small-scale irrigation farmers in Mutema and Chibuwe villages are set to benefit from a banana plantation project financed by Matanuska, a farming concern controlled by Malaysian investors.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The company last year gave villagers inputs such as fertilisers and suckers to start banana plantations and they are expected to have their first harvest “in a few months” to come.
Matanuska liaison officer, Crispen Manyuchi told Standardcommunity that the company had assisted at least 240 farmers with inputs and trained them in banana plantations management last year.
“They are operating on a five-year contract where the company will provide them with inputs and requisite training on how to manage banana plantations,” said Manyuchi. “We started the project in Mutema village but because of the interest shown by other farmers we have included farmers from Chibuwe village.”
The beneficiaries hoped that the venture would bring relief to their financial problems following the collapse of several tomato and beans farming projects in their area.
The projects collapsed after water pumps broke down in 2000.
One of the beneficiaries, Mark Tembwe said, “Since the breakdown of the water pumps in 2000, there was no meaningful farming project here till last year when a banana project was introduced. We are set to harvest our first banana fruits in the next few months.”
A banana plant takes about nine months to mature and produce bananas.
Another beneficiary, Artwell Chingara said the project was a real empowerment venture which would benefit several other communities.
He said the company also gave them loans which they are expected to repay once the farmers sell their produce.
“We agreed to repay the loans once we sell our banana produce; this is real empowerment of communities and we are grateful for the initiative,” he said.
Farmers at Jopa near Chipinge town, who were assisted by another company to grow bananas, are already selling their produce.