Source: Solomon Star 10 December 2003.
The Solomon Star, the main newspaper serving the Solomon Islands, reported on the Banana Diversity Fair held at the banana diversity collection garden at Manivovo Rural Training Centre, Makira Province, in late-2003.
MAKIRA VILLAGERS STAGE BANANA DIVERSITY FAIR
A banana diversity fair was held at Manivovo Rural Training Centre (RTC) in Makira Province recently.
The fair was sponsored by the European Union through the Kastom Gaden Association and its aim was to promote diversity which leads to food security.
"The banana collection garden at Manivovo RTC is like a model banana farm where rural villagers can come and look and learn so that they can do the same back in their villages on what diversity of crops they like to go into.
There are 132 varieties of banana collected and grown in the garden," a spokerperson for Kastom Gaden, Nancy Ethel Malu, said.
The banana diversity fair bought about 300 people to the centre, men, women, youths and children.
"During the banana fair day about 24 people brought in their bunches of banana for the show apart from the ones they already had at the centre.
"Cooking of bananas using different recipes was also on and prizes were awarded to the best and tastiest banana recipe and to those who brought the biggest, rarest and healthiest bananas," she said.
Ms Malu explained that the banana diversity fair show was like an eye-opener to most of the people who came. The principal of the Manivovo RTC, Francis Wehi, and herself talked on why diversity is important.
"As a farmer, diversity is very important because in growing many different crops there is a better chance that they will have enough of the right kinds of foods to meet their needs and those of their families.
"Different varieties of a single crop may have different tastes, may ripen at different times and have different cooking qualities," she said.
Ms Malu added that if farmers grow many different crop varieties on their farm or in their garden, it is more likely that at least some varieties will survive if the weather is bad or if there is an outbreak of pests or disease. It will be enough for the family to survive on if they grow different varieties of a crop on a block of land.
She said there is a big question each farmer should know - that is, what is happening to diversity?
"I think most species and varieties of plants are disappearing very fast. There are lots of reasons why this is happening.
"One is that any people have stopped growing their traditional crop varieties and are replacing them with just a few modern types. With no one to grow them, the old varieties disappear forever.
"More and more people are leaving the farms and gardens to find jobs in the cities and towns. Forests, where important plants once grew, are being cleared out.
"So forests are being destroyed every year and with them the plant species and varieties within species are lost forever," Ms Malu said.
She added that it is important for farmers to work hard so they can save what remains of plant diversity in order to conserve it. This leads to food security for now and for future generations.
"Bananas can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable and have been harvested by our people since prehistoric times until now.
"Bananas keep ripening after they have been picked which is why they are often harvested when they are green. Bananas play a vital role in our diet and are a source of carbohydrate, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and vitamin C", she said.
A woman at the banana diversity fair said that bananas are not just for food. Some people use the plant leaves to roof their homes, as umbrellas, for baking, for grass skirts, mats, baskets and fishing nets. In some places and countries the banana fibres are used in textiles and for book binding.
She said that they use young top leaves of bananas to keep their new-born babies warm and that banana is their main staple food.