A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Posted 1:14 PM by Tevita
Farmers reap from banana fibres
From : AFRICA Science News Service
When Njihia Kamau embarked on full scale banana cultivation over a decade ago, little did realise that he would reap more money beyond the banana fruit.
Mr. Njihia, 52, who owns a two-acre farm in Maragua district, 70 kilometres north of the capital, Nairobi, makes a fortune from banana fibre.“We realised that there’s more money in fibre products than in the fruit itself, from a single stem, you can get four times more from the fibre product,” Njihia explained.
He said the banana fibre has added to the farmers’ creativity in their quest to earn bit money.
From the fibre, farmers weave the traditional baskets (kyondosi), photo albums, table mats, ear rings, wall mats, fruit mats, bible carriers, picture frames, among other products.
Farmers also make honey care packaging materials, which are used to wrap honey bottles. These articles sell from Ksh200 each and farmers sell up to Ksh3, 000 per day during the peak of the tourism season.
During elections, farmers make fly-whisks which are popular with politicians.A former teacher, Mr. Njihia said banana fibre has enabled his family earn decent income besides the sale of the banana fruit.
“From fibre, I have invested in buildings and tissue culture nursery,” he said.Fibre has also created employment opportunities for the youth in the country.
“Farmers are very innovative,” Njihia said at his exhibition stand during the Banana 2008 international conference in Mombasa.
Njihia who leads the 1,000-member strong Highridge Banana Growers and Marketing Association in the central province, however, bemoaned the fluctuations on the market.
He said that tourists were the major clients of the fibre products and business tended to be slow when tourism was off peak.
He said that during the recent political stand off in the country, which led to clashes among the rival political groups, tourism was heavily affected, so were the sales of their products.
“Global warming also has an effect, when it is too dry, we have difficulties in getting good fibre materials,” Njihia said.He expressed his members’ frustrations at the failure to penetrate the European and United States markets due to stringent procedures.
Njihia cites lack of patenting of their products as a drawback in their business because other merchants from other countries and continents easily imitated their products.
The utilisation of fibre products has added to unity among banana growers, as they are able to share experiences. Mgenzi Byabachwezi, a Ugandan scientist, said utilisation of banana fibre was similar in the Eastern African community.
Byabachwezi said farmers in Tanzania also make bags, mats, roofing materials, ropes as well as recycling it to make mulch which kills weeds in the field. Mwenebanda, a Malawian research associate, echoed his sentiments.
Stella Mwashumbe, a technical assistant at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, based at Mtwapa Research Centre, said banana varieties like bokoboko and mzdzavudza produce the best fibre because they are straight and strong.
She said while bokoboko was used for wrapping of tobacco, mzdzavudza was used to make ropes for tying animals like goats.
With competition emerging, Njihia says farmers should take advantage of tissue culture to plan for the markets. “With tissue culture, you can have many harvests at the same time, get better bunches and good tasting bananas,” he said.
He called for the change of eating habits in Kenya to take advantage of the more nutritious banana products.
Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 October 2008 )
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