Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Banana food to become a scarce commodity in Arusha

The bananas popularly known as ‘Bitoke’ in some other African vernacular languages is the favourite staple food among many residents in the Northern Zone regions. The food  may soon become scarce in Arusha where large estates of such crops have been destroyed by cyclones, accompanying by the ongoing rains.  The ‘Mto-wa-Mbu’ Division of Monduli District, where most of the banana consignments of Arusha come from, seems to have mostly suffered the agricultural loss, since all the local banana plantations, according to the farmers there, have fallen under the power of downpour mixed with windstorms. One of the farmers, Mr Mrisho Ramson, revealed here that the Majengo area of Mto-wa-Mbu suffered more losses. “And this is where all dessert and cooking bananas sent to Arusha, Singida, Manyara and Dodoma originate from,” he said. He added that these precincts will face banana shortage in the first half of 2018. Majengo and Mgombani areas alone produce up to 1,000 bunches of bananas per day and the entire Mto-wa-Mbu area yields nearly 2,000 bunches per day but after the farm destructions, the areas produce just 70 bunches in a day. 

As the result, prices for bananas have hit record high, a single banana finger fetches 120/- instead of the usual 70/- at Mto wa Mbu. The price climbs once the bananas are taken elsewhere. Mwalimu Khamis Nyungu, is another resident of Mto-wa- Mbu. He explained that, in the past the area had trees’ cover which used to block the winds. But now residents of the area have cut down the forests to expand their farms. “There is nothing to block the wind or reduce the force of water, therefore, whenever it rains, the area suffers floods and landslides, but when cyclones hit the precinct farms faced destruction,” said Mr Nyungu. The Chairman of Majengo Village, Mr Raymond Muro said the incidences of banana plantations falling under pressure of storms are common things in the area and there is nothing they can do about it. He, however, admitted that the current catastrophe was the worst. He said banana plants take up to eight months before becoming productive and that the shortage of such staple will affect the Northern Zone regions until next August.

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