The Road Out of Poverty and Malnutrition is Lined with Banana Plants
When the program decided to promote bananas instead of sweet potatoes for food and income, the Rwandan government provided training and banana suckers (shoots) and committed to monitoring for diseases and pests. Program participants learned how to grow, use and market bananas at two hands-on farmer field schools before beginning production at home.
Ninety percent of the banana plants already in production in the area are used in making local beer, are not edible, and can lead to drunkenness and lost wages, rather than improved food security.
In contrast, edible bananas are a good source of nutrition, and when families grow them they can sell them for a profit: $10.70 per bunch as opposed to $1.60 for beer bananas. A challenge for farmers making the switch is that it takes 18 months between original planting and first harvest. Once established, however, a typical plant will produce a bunch of bananas every two weeks for 6 weeks and then produce again within 3 months. Bananas can be produced year-round on plants that can last for more than 20 years.
Grace (above) is a widow with six children who is already benefiting from growing edible bananas. She was given banana shoots in the first round of training and has been able to grown and sell them for a profit. Her bananas are very big and healthy because she uses goat manure to fertilize the plants. She also maintains them well, moving tubers to new locations when needing to thin, and making sure that there are no weeds competing for nutrients. With her earnings she was able to open a small business selling cooking oil. As a result, all of her children are now in school.
Thanks to your generosity and support
- Children in participant families are healthier
- The two field schools train farmers on managing bananas and kitchen gardens, and supplements the
feeding programat NCM Rwanda’s Child Development Center
- The field schools also provide paid employment for people that maintain the schools and test plots
Rwanda Rubavu Program
Led by Nazarene Compassionate Ministries Rwanda