The Ministry of Agriculture, on Monday August 16, distributed 400 plantain slips to 20 farmers to launch a programme aimed at increasing the availability of plantains on the island.
The programme, which is the brainchild of the Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Crenston Buffonge, uses a rapid increase plantain propagation method known as PIF, to produce a large number of slips.
The Ministry noted that Monday’s distribution of 20 slips to each farmer is the first of more to come as other persons, especially backyard gardeners, have been indicating their interest in receiving plantain slips. Director of Agriculture, Melissa O’Garro indicated that the Ministry presently has a waiting list of 40 persons, adding that everyone will not get immediately, but the goal is to eventually give to all persons who have requested.
She further stated, “This programme is extremely timely as Montserrat has been challenged with supplying the local market with plantains. It is also important as many of the other islands struggle with increasing incidences of pests and disease which impact the musa species, (plantains fall under the musa species) thereby preventing the importation of plantains and bananas.”
The Ministry hopes that with the increased availability of plantains, agro processors will branch into producing plantain flour and chips, among other food items.
The Ministry of Agriculture intends to continue the programme into next year.