‘Banana Village’ to promote intensive cultivation and conservation: Kerala-India……….
KOCHI: Welfare Services Ernakulam, the social services wing of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese, will establish a ‘Banana Village’ — to be developed as a resource centre for conservation, research, promotion of intensive cultivation and value addition in bananas, of which there are an estimated 280 varieties in Kerala.
According to Fr. Paul Moonjely, director of Welfare Services, though there are hundreds of varieties, hardly 10 are widely cultivated.
The ‘Banana Village’ programme will look to conserve these varieties and spread their cultivation, he said.
The programme involves 1,000 farmers in the first phase.
About five acres of land at Parambayam, near Mookkannoor is being readied for the programme. It will be a full-fledged programme in a year’s time.
He said that according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates, about 20 per cent of banana production in the world is in India. However, India accounts for just one per cent of the world export of bananas.
The ‘Banana Village’ will have a training centre, tissue culture laboratory and demonstration gardens. The programme will also involve farmers on a larger scale as it progresses.
Development of farmers’ field schools to spread scientific cultivation of bananas is another aim of the programme.
With a view to exporting the produce, the new venture will be totally organic in nature, said Fr. Moonjely.
Export of bananas and value addition will give the farmers attractive remuneration in the long run, he said.
Bringing the farmers into the marketing chain will ensure that they get the right prices for their produce.
The initiative will sensitise farmers to food security issues too and help them improve productivity through development of disease resistant varieties and improving the management skills of the farmers.
Dissemination of information and formation of clusters of banana farmers are the other aims of the programme.