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RESIDENTS of Kirakira in Makira-Ulawa Province yesterday witnessed the colourful opening of their province’s inaugural Banana Festival.
This is a cultural event organised to promote the banana tree as an identity as well as a source of food security.
Besides, organisers are using the event as part of their efforts to promote tourism in Makira-Ulaw Province.
Chairman of the festival’s organising committee, Noel Mamau, and his team must be highly commended for the initiative.
It takes planning, time, effort, and money to organise a festival of this magnitude. And for them to finally open the three-day festival after months and weeks of planning was a significant achievement indeed.
Banana, as a food tree, holds a lot of cultural significance in our traditional societies. It’s a major food source our people would depend on all year round, as well as during natural disasters when other traditional food crops were damaged.
Makira-Ulawa Province is known as “home of banana” because of the wide varieties of banana species on the islands.
The Banana Festival is therefore a celebration of a food crop that holds a special place in the history of the Makira-Ulaw people.
Furthermore, banana is a potential crop that could be turned into a commercial commodity.
British High Commissioner, Dominic Meikel John, who was guest of honour at the festival, suggested what the national government should seriously pursue.
That the people of Makira, with the help of the national government, should explore the European duty free banana market with the view of exporting banana to Europe.
As a member of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) states, Solomon Islands can access the European banana market.
Of course there will be many requirements to meet if we are to access that market.
But it’s worth pursuing.
While we recognise the cultural significance of banana in our societies, it’s time to look beyond tradition and consider turning this crop into a commercial commodity.
There are plenty of them on Makira. Converting them into a cash crop is not a bad idea at all.
In fact it could become one of the country’s exports in future.
Can authorities seriously look into this?