Banana cultivation and deep processing in Zimbabwe have evolved from a self-sufficient crop to a commercial enterprise, which has changed the rural communities in the eastern part of the country. In particular, the continuous popularization of the industrial banana chips processing business has directly promoted the economic development of many parts of Zimbabwe.
What advantages does Zimbabwe have in developing banana chip processing?
In 2010, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the Zimbabwe Agricultural Income and Employment Development Program (Zim-AIED). The program works with banana growers in the Honde Valley in eastern Zimbabwe to improve local agricultural practices and produce high-quality bananas.
The Food and Agriculture Organization also implemented the Mupangwa Irrigation Program in the Hongde Valley to help farmers improve banana planting and connect it with markets and other farmers in the area.
Banana cultivation in Zimbabwe has been very successful because the trees are easy to manage. Banana trees need a humid tropical climate, as well as well-drained geographical conditions and fertile soil. The natural conditions of the Bend Valley in eastern Zimbabwe are excellent, so it is very suitable for banana cultivation.
By 2015, about 600 banana farmers had received technical assistance in agricultural technology. They can change their farming methods to substantially increase banana production and income. These farmers then pass on their knowledge to neighbors and others in the community. Now, the Bend Valley has more than 5,000 commercial banana growers, each earning an average of about US$4,200 per acre per year.
What impact will the development of banana chip processing have on Zimbabwe?
With the huge improvement in banana cultivation in Zimbabwe, the local banana production has gradually increased. In addition to selling bananas to the market and exporting, local banana farmers also carry out deep processing of bananas, which is to process bananas into nutritious and crispy banana chips. This greatly increases the added value of bananas and can also increase farmers’ income.
Therefore, many local investors in Zimbabwe have invested in banana chip processing lines to produce crisp banana chips in recent years. The processing of banana chips in Zimbabwe has created many employment opportunities for local villages and farmers.
The opportunities for farmers to obtain credit and bank loans have also increased sharply, and various small and medium-sized enterprises have flourished. Commercial banana cultivation and processing in Zimbabwe has also enhanced women’s labor capacity. In the Honda Valley, about 60% of banana growers are women.