|Success with bananas in Angola!|
By Dr JC Robinson, Du Roi Laboratories
An Angolan business entrepreneur successfully established a 32 ha block of commercial bananas at Benguela, on the Southern coast of Angola. Mr Manuel Antonio Monteiro planted 32 ha's of mixed Cavendish varieties (Williams, Grand nain and Chinese Cavendish) from November 2002 to January 2003. Flowering was from May to July and the first harvest of bunches started in September (10 months from planting) and will continue until December 2003.
The plantations have been established and managed under the watchful eye of the Technical Department of Du Roi Laboratory, Letsitele, South Africa. Superior planting materials and continuous technical expertise has been supplied by Du Roi Laboratory. In addition, Mr Monteiro has applied meticulous day to day management to achieve remarkable uniformity of growth, vigour and yield, and is now reaping the rewards with excellent quality fruit on the Luanda market.
Mr Monteiro established the entire plantation using the Floppy Sprinkler irrigation system, designed and supplied by Floppy Sprinkler (Pty) Ltd. in South Africa. This robust system has been ideal for the dry Benguela conditions because the frequent cooling of the leaves in the hot, dry conditions has benefitted the plant, while the large droplets (like rain) have prevented excessive evaporation loss of scarce water. The schedule has applied 10 mm every two days in summer and 7 mm every two days in winter, thus the soil is kept continuously moist. This system and schedule has undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success being enjoyed by Mr Monteiro.
The first bunches were ceremoniously cut on 7th September, in the presence of the Governor of Benguela Province and many other dignitaries. The fruit was packed in boxes in his new packhouse and transported by refrigerated truck to Luanda, where the market reacted very favourably, thinking the fruit had been imported! In one day he sold 12 tonnes and was receiving an excellent price of USD 90 cents per kg or R9.00 per kg (Exchange rate R10.00 to the Dollar).
This project is a good example Of what can be achieved in countries like Angola, when a committed entrepreneur works hand in hand with reliable and reputable companies that provide the necessary materials and technical expertise. Floppy Sprinkler (Pty) Ltd. and Du Roi Laboratory are two such South African Companies that have shown the huge success that can be achieved under difficult circumstances.