Blessing Rwizi Farming Correspondent
LOW banana prices are having a toll on farmers in Honde Valley as they are being forced to part with their perishable produce for a song. Farmers used to sale their bananas for 35 cents per kilogramme, but prices have dropped to 25 cents despite the high production costs.
Farmers are also grappling with transport challenges to ferry their produce to bigger markets in Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare, leaving them to count their losses as some of the bananas end up rotting in the fields. Among the few companies buying bananas in Honde Valley are Brand Fresh, Sunflash and Savco from Harare. One of the farmers, Mr Thomas Marikebho, said most families were being affected by the low prices.
“We adopted improved agricultural practices such as the use of irrigation systems, increase in acreage and quality banana seedling over the past years. Bananas had become the backbone of Honde Valley, but now we fear that we might be forced out of this business because of the low prices,” said Mr Marikebho.
“Brand Fresh, Savco and Sunflash are among the few companies buying bananas at 25 cents per kg for Grade A bananas. Grade B and C are even lower than 25 cents, yet we used to sell the lowest grade at 35 cents. These companies claim that the market is flooded, resulting in them offering these ridiculously low prices,” he said.
Mrs Tsitsi Dembaremba from Zindi area also voiced her concern over the lack of transport.
“There is no immediate market, so we have to transport our produce to Harare for sale. Most farmers are failing to afford high transport costs to Harare and bananas end up rotting both in the fields and on the road sides. It costs $10 to transport a full of bananas to Harare. We also need to pay loaders and off-loaders. We are working very hard, but we are getting very little rewards from this venture,” said Mrs Dembaremba.