ASWAP-SPII Project Coordinator Mr Henry Msatilomu says he is optimistic that the project will achieve its main objective of improving productivity and market access for 203,000 farmers.
Speaking on Friday at Kamwendo Model Village in Ntcheu, Msatilomu said that the project has already reached 201,000 out of the targeted 230,000 farmers with various modern farming technologies through different interventions for increased production of maize, legumes, cassava and sweet potatoe by 20%.
The coordinator said ASWAp has surpassed the production increase target by 2% as production of the said crops has increased with 22%. He further mentioned that a new component of livestock ‘pass on program’ has been added to the project.
The project has so far upgraded 77kms tarmac roads and has improved 1000km gravel roads in the 12 districts where it is being implemented.
ASWAp is also establishing a system called National Agriculture Information system for the Ministry of Agriculture which will be the hub of various agricultural data for the Ministry.
Farmers from Noah Mkochi Model village under Champhira EPA in Mzimba South District are happy with the support they are receiving from ASWAp – SPII.
The project provided inputs for demonstration fields of different crops for the farmers to learn through participation. The farmers were also trained on gender main streaming, HHA, He 4 She campaign, nutrition and sanitation. ASWAp – SPII has also constructed a 6 km road for easy market access by the farmers.
Doctor Mkochi was all smiles as he narrated that he has already started enjoying the benefits of banana production and has earned MK36000 from selling just 12 banana suckers at MK3000 each. He thanks ASWAp for training and providing them with seed and suckers
On her part Mary Nyirongo said after being trained on soya beans double row cultivation, she has now increased production on a piece of land where she previously harvested 150 kgs but now gets 500kgs. The village consists 120 households and 149 farmers
The officials from the World Bank, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Finance has today visited Chabuka Model Village and Chipuka EPA in Ntchisi District where among things they appreciated interventions being implemented in the district by ASWAp SP II
The model Village has three villages; Chabuka, Njintha, Njombwa, totalling up to 229 households. 949 Farmers have benefited from the expertise they acquired through ASWAp and have also managed to plant trees on 7.3 hectares of land. Other interventions include;
Cassava Production which was grown at about 10.9 hectares of land
Integrated Homestead Farming
Livestock Production almost 15 households are expected to benefit 5 goats each from Goat pass on program and about 15 households are expected to benefit 3 pigs each from pig pass on program)
Climate Smart Agriculture
Environmental and Social Safeguards
Banana production;1084 suckers have been planted covering 2.5 hectares of land
Soya beans (41 hectares was cultivated in the just ended farming season)
Road construction (7.1Km stretch) for easy access to markets
Smallstock farming 40 rabbits were supplied in total.
It is a well-known fact that farmers in the country produce and sell their produce each passing year. But how and where they sell their produce, remains a challenge that needs to be addressed if we are to achieve remarkable economic growth among our farmers.
Despite their important role as food producers, the commercial prospects for many of our smallholders remain a challenge.
A majority of farmers in the country site lack well-structured markets and stable prices for agricultural produce as one reason that hinders agricultural development at both household and national levels. The need for connecting farmers to better markets cannot be over-emphasized as it remains essential in the social-economic development of our farmers and is very key to sustainable and increased agricultural productivity.
They (smallholders) engage in many interrelated markets, but also face challenges in securing market access and eliciting benefits to support healthy livelihoods.
Under component one of the second Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project (ASWAp-SPII), ‘Sustainable Agricultural Productivity and Diversification’ through subcomponent 1.1, Strengthening innovative agricultural extension and advisory services as a key driver to enhance sustainable crop diversification, production and management systems, the project facilitates development and capacity building for farmer organizations which among others includes trainings on how the farmers can link themselves to structured and reliable markets.
Gwiritse Farmers Cooperative from the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kabudula at Nsaru in Lilongwe has been one of the farmer organizations to benefit from these initiatives. The cooperative was linked to ASWAp – SPII through UN Women, another organization with which they have partnered as a cooperative.
The cooperative was trained on visioning and how to find markets for their produce and according to Bondera Chiungeni who is the cooperative’s Board Chairperson, they have been in the past having several challenges as regards securing reliable markets before they received the training from ASWAp – SPII.
“As a cooperative, we have had no formal market of selling our produce since we started. We used to sell our commodities to unscrupulous buyers whose prices are very low and they buy in small quantities making it difficult for us to sell all our produce at once”, he explained.
Chiungeni says the cooperative started working with ASWAp – SPII in 2017 and in 2018, some members of the cooperative were taken to Mponela for training. Further to that in 2019 ASWAp – SPII took some members of the cooperative for an education tour to Blantyre where they attended Agriculture Trade Fair at the trade fair grounds.
Brenda Mkwapatira, one of the members who attended the training, says the training has greatly benefitted the cooperative and its individual members. Mkwapatira explained that during the training, they were taught of having a vision as farmers and how the cooperative can go search and secure markets for its produce.
“When we go to look for a market of our produce, there are things that we consider, such as the type of commodity the buyer is looking for, the quantities which need to be supplied, the period of supplying the commodity and above all, the price which the buyer is offering. We do this research with several buyers and choose the buyer we like according to the conditions”, she said.
The cooperative’s manager Mr. Piton Ngwira says the training has assisted them to be independent in the processes of searching and securing markets for their produce and that they do not have to be relying on other people or organizations to find markets.
Ngwira said, “We have been pushing to be independent in the processes of finding markets as a cooperative, the training has helped us achieve this. The knowledge we obtained from the training has assisted us to secure markets with different companies and institutions. These include National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), Sunseed Oil Company and Agriculture Development and Market Corporation (ADMARC), this is what we have always looked forward to.”
In the 2019 – 2020 marketing season, the cooperative sold 103 metric tons of soya bean to Sunseed Oil Company, 350 metric tons of maize to NFRA and 843 metric tons to ADMARC.The tonnage sold includes produce from the cooperative members and some from nonmembers which the cooperative aggregates and sell at a commission.
The cooperative realized a total of MK8.4 million in commission from the sales. The tonnage which was sold to ADAMRC brought to the cooperative a total commission of MK5 million, MK1.7 million from NFRA sales and MK1.7 million from Sunseed Oil Company.
Ngwira says the development has assisted to lessen the responsibility of cooperative members on meeting operational expenses of the cooperative such as employees’ salaries and utility bills among others and will help the members to get farm inputs at an affordable subsidized price.The members are also enjoying good returns from their labor as they are now selling their produce at better prices.
“The commission realized is being used to pay the employees and utility bills of the cooperative. In the 2020-2021 season, we used some of the money to buy seeds that were distributed to the members and they will pay after harvesting and selling the same at a subsidized price. The members are also selling their produce at better prices. For example, when vendors were buying soya bean at MK320 we sold the same commodity to our markets at MK430 per kilogram”, Ngwira said.
Registered in 2017 as a cooperative, Gwiritse Farmers cooperative has 248 members with 184 women, 64 men and 71 young people among which 57 are ladies and 14 are gentlemen. The cooperative has several permanent employed staff such as agricultural extension worker, manager and accountant. Members of the cooperative have been divided into groups referred to as business centers for easy management. The centers include Chiliko, Mgola, Zindo, Mphonje, Mande and Kasambwe.
Malawi’s smallholder farmers play an essential role in ensuring food security and nutrition today and in the future, including in the increase in food production needed to meet future national and international demands.
Travelling in the steep slopes of the mountainous Thyolo and Mulanje districts, the evergreen cover of tea and bananas ushered a beautiful scenery to travelers just a decade ago.Not long ago, a good number of graduates we see today managed to complete their education with money realized from banana sales. Parents and guardians in the two districts and other parts of Malawi counted on banana bunches for food and income.
The benefits of bananas to the farmer and everyone are multifaceted. Matured green bananas are in some parts of the country cooked and eaten as a staple food. When ripen, they are eaten as a fresh fruit very rich in vitamins. Bananas make good sales on the market and the demand for the fruit is never quenched, as such, they are also grown as a cash crop.
“Bananas have greatly contributed to the social-economic development of my area and the whole country, Malawi. . Banana farming is not an energy intensive farming activity, doesn’t require fertilizers but its demand is always increasing and makes good sales”, says Senior Chief Mthiramanja of Mulanje.
Nevertheless, banana production in Malawi has in the past decade been declining and threatened to extinction due to the occurrence of Banana Bunchy Top Disease (BBTD) which is caused by the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV). BBTD has spread to almost all the areas and districts where bananas are grown in the country. This has greatly disturbed the social-economic development of the farmers who heavily depend on the fruit for food, nutrition and income.
“Bananas assist us a lot. When our fields were attacked and destroyed by BBTD, we were stranded and hopeless. We didn’t know what to do and we were facing a lot of challenges to acquire some basic needs of our lives”, laments Martha of Mawira village under Mkosi of Loti Moyo model village in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Mthwalo in Mzimba.
The need to revamp banana production in the country has been frequently underscored by different stakeholders in the agriculture sector including the farmers themselves.
In a bid to restore banana production and bring back the splendor of the industry in the country, the second Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project (ASWAp – SPII) is supporting the propagation of clean banana suckers at different designated areas and sites in the country. The clean and disease free suckers are distributed to community propagating fields and further to individual farmers to plant in their respective fields.
Agriculture Research Stations such Lunyangwa in Mzimba, Chitedze in Lilongwe and Bvumbwe in Thyolo are producing clean planting materials which are distributed to farmers with support from the project.
According to Banana Technicians at the stations, they have mother orchards with clean banana planting materials where they get corms which are prepared for planting in the humidity chambers for propagation.When the corms sprout, primary suckers are killed while secondary suckers are kept and hardened off in tubes for two weeks within the chambers and later distributed to farmers for planting in their fields
Through macro propagation with corms, every three months each corm produces over 25 suckers. There are two beds in the chamber where propagation is currently being done at the stations with 300 corms on each bed. This means through this method alone, the stations on average are producing over 15000 suckers every three months.The stations propagate four banana varieties of Nzeru, Mulanje, William and Grand Nine according to farmers’ demand.
Lunyangwa Research Station Manager Tony Harris Maulana, says ASWAp – SPII has greatly assisted in the restoration of the banana industry in the northern region and the country at large.According to Maulana the station multiplies the clean banana planting materials in three ways.
“ASWAp – SPII has helped us a lot in restoring the banana industry. We do multiply clean planting material in different ways. One is to use tissue culture lab which we have here at Lunyangwa. The other one is to use the corm system. We can use split corm or whole corm to produce suckers. The other way is that we are increasing the hectares so that we can get a lot of suckers from there. We have at the moment 8 hectares for banana plantation where we harvest the suckers and then distribute to farmers” he said.
One of the established community nurseries for banana propagation is Nazidongo Banana scheme in Thyolo which was established in 2019. The members of the scheme received 300 clean suckers from ASWAp – SPI and planted the suckers. The scheme has at the moment distributed 89 suckers to its members and sells some suckers to non-members.
Joyce Nazidongo, chairperson of the scheme says, the nursery has brought hope for banana production in the area which was almost become extinct. She says members of the scheme and other villages are benefiting a lot from the scheme as they are now getting disease-free banana suckers.
“Before ASWAp – SPII, we had no bananas here following the attack by BBTD. But when the community nursery was established I got suckers from there and started my own nursery where I am multiplying and selling the suckers. This has given hope for the restoration of banana farming in this area”, she said.
Speaking during a visit to farmers at Magunda in Thyolo, Minister of Agriculture Honorable Lobin Lowe MP, admitted that banana production in the country has significantly declined and we are importing the fruit from our neighboring countries. He further indicated that government through projects such as ASWAp – SPII is doing everything possible to bring back banana farming to its usual state.
Lowe said, “If you follow history you will agree with me that Thyolo and Mulanje used to be our food baskets particularly in the supply of bananas but due to BBTV the industry collapsed and we are eating bananas from our neighboring countries. As government, we have special programs which aim at revamping the industry. We are encouraging farmers to uproot all the infected plantations and we are providing them with clean banana suckers”.
Government and the donor community continue to support farmers through different initiatives and projects to revamp and restore the banana industry in Malawi through the propagation and distribution of clean planting materials. The country through projects such as ASWAp – SPII will not long from now restore banana farming.
It never crossed his mind. As a smallholder farmer, Mickson Banda never thought he would see light at the end of the tunnel. The thought of pedaling a long distance on a rough-surfaced road to access a better market for his produce always left him exhausted. He always knew a good proportion of his produce would be lost to the poor conditioned road, but he had no choice. His only option was to face the challenge head-on. The hope of getting a penny from whatever little that would make it to the market was the only thing that kept him enduring.
It is true, farmers in rural areas of the country have always lamented the poor condition of roads which often limit their access to reliable markets. High transportation costs coupled with reduced produce quality and post-harvest losses due to poor roads often worry farmers as they detract from their incomes and profits. The country’s agriculture productivity heavily depends on farmers’ access to markets. Improving road networks in the country is therefore key, otherwise the future of our smallholder farmers will remain a blur.
Banda comes from Sitikali village in the area of Traditional Authority Chiseka in Lilongwe district. He usually takes the Mitundu-Kambanizithe road going to Mitundu Trading Centre to sell maize and sweet potato. The road was once in a bad shape that it used to give him a headache whenever he was walking it. For so long the road’s condition had been the biggest barrier between him and Mitundu market, the largest market in the area. He said the condition of the road was worsened during the rainy season; it was muddy and very difficult to pass.
“Accidents were common and most farmers, including myself, were losing their produce on the way. We were struggling to get to the market, at least to sell our produce at good prices,” he said.
He also lamented the high transportation cost that the poor-conditioned road caused. “We used to pay as high as K35, 000 to safely transport our produce from Katchale to Mitundu market,” he added.
Like the old days, on this particular day, Banda was on the same road heading to the market. He was carrying two bags of maize on his bicycle, but this time he was pushing the bike so effortlessly because the road bears a new face. Thanks to Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project II (ASWAp-SPII). ASWAp-SPII had upgraded the Mitundu-Kambanizithe seven-kilometer road to low volume seal tarmac. The project is in one of its components ‘Improvement of Rural Road Infrastructure for Market Access’ committed to facilitating market access for farmers through improvement of road and bridge infrastructure.
“It never crossed my mind that one day I would be moving so easily on this road going to the market. Even the time it takes for us to reach the market with our produce has been reduced, we don’t take long to get to the market like before,” Banda said while smiling.
“Now that the road has been upgraded, taxi fare has reduced to K25, 000. With the reduced transportation costs, I am able to save some money for other purposes,” he added.
The new face of the road indeed lifted the burden off Banda’s shoulders. He was often burdened at the beginning and end of every growing season.Whenever the growing season was approaching, he struggled to access the market to buy farm inputs. When the growing season ended, he was going through the same struggle to take his produce to the market. But all this is now a story of the past. Banda can now cycle to the market in no time, without even thinking of losing some of his produce on the way. He now has the hope of increasing his income because he is able to sell his produce at a better market with good prices.
Moving on to Phalombe, Luciano Sitima from Namuthu village shares a similar experience. His misery ended when ASWAp-SPII upgraded the once hard-to-pass road running 13 kilometers from Phalombe town to Mpata.
Sitima couldn’t endure the pain of seeing his produce rot at home when a market was available somewhere. He had to risk both his bicycle and produce, cycling through the once rough-surfaced road to get to the market. He needed the money to support his family.
“Previously, the road was in very bad shape. Rocks were all over and there was grass everywhere. I couldn’t do otherwise but to pass through it even though it was risky,” he said.
The road is clear now and farmers can go to and from the market easily. They are no longer facing unnecessary delays on the road. They are now able to reach their destinations just in time.
“We used to take about three hours on a bicycle to get to Phalombe town. Now we take less than one hour because the road is in good shape,” added Sitima.
The improved road has also contributed to farmers’ wellbeing, especially to women. They can easily travel to the hospital and receive assistance in time.
“As women, we used to face a lot of challenges before this road was upgraded. Expectant women could deliver on the way before reaching the hospital, now it is history,” said Esther Matemba from Kalama village in Mpata.
She added, “We are also farmers, and we have several businesses; we sell bananas, fuelwood, and other produce to support our families. It was a challenge for us to transport our produce. Now that the road has been improved, taxis are everywhere and we easily take our produce to the market.”
ASWAp-SPII Desk Officer for Phalombe, Sam Mofolo, said the road is helping farmers around Mpata despite not reaching up to Nkhulambe area.
“We would like to thank ASWAp-SPII because it has helped to open market linkages through the construction of roads. Farmers are really appreciating because they are easily transporting their produce from production centers to markets,” said Mofolo.
In Mulanje district, ASWAp-SPII upgraded the Sayama-Manthambi seven-kilometer road using the low volume seal method. The initiative has gone a long way in putting a smile on the face of transporters. A group of transporters from Sayama turn-off in Mulanje have hailed the project for easing their movement whenever they are carrying people as well as farm produce from one place to another.
Jonas Mokotha, one of the transporters said, “Previously, this road was very bad, our businesses were not doing fine. We were forced to take a longer route just to run away from this road because it was muddy and difficult to pass.”
The transporters are now happy because the road is smooth and they are now getting more customers than before, a plus to their income.
ASWAp-SP II is being implemented in 12 districts of the country with funding from the European Union (EU), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Norwegian Government, Irish Aid, and the Flanders under the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) administered by the World Bank.
The project, through its roads improvement component, has increased rural farmers’ access to reliable markets. This initiative is playing a significant role in contributing to increased agricultural productivity in the country.
To farmers like Dickson Kamtedza, sweet potato production has been a part of life. The conventional sweet potato varieties are everywhere and he has cultivated every bit of them. However, in the present, the joy of reaping maximum food and financial benefits from the crop lies in cultivating improved varieties. Switching to growing the improved sweet potato varieties was the last thing that Kamtedza wanted most, but he had nowhere to source planting materials to grow the improved varieties.
In Malawi, sweet potato is regarded as one of the food crops besides maize. Smallholder farmers prefer the crop because of its short growth cycle which allows them to harvest more than once a year. It is also cheap to produce as compared to other crops.
Government and other research and development organizations are now promoting the production of improved varieties of biofortified, vitamin A-rich orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) among farmers. However, most farmers have been faced with the challenge of limited access to vines required for growing the improved sweet potato varieties.
Kamtedza comes from Mkupila village in the area of Traditional Authority Chikumbu in Mulanje, and is one of the farmers who were most challenged. His dream of ever cultivating the improved varieties was just a blur. But thanks to Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Project II (ASWAp-SPII). He received OFSP sweet potato vines through the project.
“I received Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato planting materials from ASWAp-SPII. This variety is rich in vitamin A as compared to other varieties that we used to grow. We grow sweet potato mainly for food but also for sale to get money to support our families,” said Kamtedza.
ASWAp-SPII, in one of its components, is committed to improving farmers’ access to clean planting materials of root and tuber crops through vine multiplication. The project is being implemented in Malawi with financial support from five donors namely EU, Irish Aid, USAID, Flanders, and Norway, managed by the World Bank.
Kamtedza cultivated the improved sweet potato that he received from ASWAp-SPII on his 0.25-acre field with the aim of multiplying vines as per the objective of the project’s initiative. He has since multiplied and shared vines with five other farmers. Now that his only obstacle has been cleared, he hopes to increase hectarage to reap more from the variety.
“From what I have seen, this is a good variety and I am looking forward to increasing hectarage in the next season. Unlike the other varieties, this improved variety fetches high prices on the market and I hope to benefit much from it,” Kamtedza added.
ASWAp-SPII is promoting the production of vitamin A enriched root and tuber crops which are highly productive and drought resilient, with the aim of contributing to food, income and nutrition security in the country.
William Masinja is a farmer from Gowelo village in Zomba. He also received sweet potato vines from ASWAp-SPII and he said the vine multiplication initiative will go a long way in cushioning climatic change shocks.
“What prompted us to embrace sweet potato vine multiplication is climate change. We saw it right to receive the planting materials from ASWAp-SPII so that in the case where our maize has failed, the sweet potato will stand as our everyday food,” said Masinja.
Another farmer from the same village, Loveness Salanje said the improved sweet potato variety will help to transform his family.
“This is a hybrid variety, it is different from other varieties because it is early maturing; it matures in less than five months. This sweet potato will help us in terms of food and money after selling. We will use the money to pay school fees for our children. This will also help to improve production because other farmers will also get planting materials through us,” she said.
To ensure that farmers are accessing clean, improved sweet potato planting materials, ASWAp-SPII through the Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) is supporting multiplication of OFSP varieties through research stations and progressive farmers.
Harry Mleta, a specialist in root and tuber crops at Chitedze Research Station said farmers across the country have already started accessing the planting materials through the initiative.
“Since the start of the programme in 2019, we have managed to distribute approximately over 10,000 bundles of planting materials to farmers in different districts. Next year we intend to distribute to other farmers as well,” said Mleta.
ASWAp-SPII is working hand in hand with Agriculture Offices in the districts where the project is being implemented.
“We are working together with ASWAp-SPII, and our focus is on increasing the availability of planting materials to our farmers. This project has helped us with OFSP varieties. We are multiplying the varieties so that they are available to everyone,” said Charles Hausi, Assistant Agriculture Extension Development Coordinator (AAEDC) at Msikawanjala Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Mulanje.
He added that “So far in Msikawanjala EPA, the planting materials have reached a lot of farmers through ASWAp-SPII. Over 20 farmers have benefited through vine multiplication and we hope that the vines will reach more farmers through the ones that are multiplying.”
Hausi further said ASWAp-SPII is investing in multiplication of OFSP because there are a lot of benefits associated with the improved variety.
“OFSP contains vitamin A, which has been an issue of national concern regarding nutrition. Vitamin A improves eyesight, boosts the body’s immunity against infections and keeps the skin moist. Looking at the six food groups, the crop also supplies carbohydrates. So, we are encouraging farmers who have received the improved planting materials to keep on multiplying so that after two or three years the varieties should spread throughout the EPA and the district at large,” he added.
Improving access to clean, improved sweet potato varieties through ASWAp-SPII will contribute to reducing vitamin A deficiency in the country. This will in turn contribute to achieving food, income and nutrition security among farming families.ASWAp-SPII Making Improved Sweet Potato Planting Materials Available to Rural Farmers
The Agriculture Sector Wide Approach-Support Project II (ASWAP-SPII) has rolled out the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) aimed at achieving regulated and efficient market systems in Malawi.
The project has bought digital gadgets for agricultural officers to use for collecting data on market prices for various farm commodities.
One of the officers, Eunice Sulamoyo Kambalame from Zomba Agriculture Office has commended the initiative.
Previously, we collected market information on a piece of paper. It was difficult to transfer information to the Ministry, especially in rainy season because papers could get soaked – she explains.
In addition to tablets bought for extension workers for collecting data, ASWAp-SPII has bought a desktop computer placed at Zomba District Office to be used as a backup gadget. Furthermore, each Agriculture Extension Development Coordinator (AEDC) has received a laptop computer.
Farmers of Mjintho village under Chabuka model village in the area of Traditional Authority (TA) Kalumo in Ntchisi expect bumper yields this season following the use of manure.
The farmers are now able to make and apply manure in their fields after being trained by ASWAp-SPll. Lloyd Moto, chairman of Chabuka model village, says manure improves soil fertility, thereby increasing crop yield. Moto harvested 1600kgs of maize in the previous season compared to 800kgs he used to get from the same field. He has since bought an oxcart, 2 motorcycles and built a 4 bedroomed house.
Chabuka model village has 130 households participating in making and using manure.
In a bid to restore the banana industry, ASWAp-SP II through the Department of Agriculture Research Services (DARS) has intensified banana macro-propagation and community orchards. According to Harold Katondo, Horticulturalist at Bvumbwe Research Station, DARS has produced over 40,000 suckers since ASWAp-SP II started, thus from 2018/2019 growing season.
Among others, commercial farmers like Ovillella Mkhupela of Chilumba farm collaborates with the Zomba District Agriculture Office and has since planted 1500 William banana variety on his one-hectare piece of land.
I decided to venture into banana production because I know that farming is business, and I believe that there is a lot of money in the banana industry – says Mkhupela.
Mkhupela – I believe there is a lot of money in the banana industry
Smallholder farmers are also multiplying their clean banana planting materials in their communities. Peter Mose from Mchinji district is among such farmers.
“I was given 100 suckers, but now I have more than 160 banana tree. I will keep multiplying because I have seen the benefits in banana production,” says Mose.
To date, a total of more than 600 hectares have been put under banana production by 11,213 farmers with 53.8% women in the implementation districts.