Makira Island of the Makira Ulawa Province which is known as the Banana Island should regret not diversifying the use of the banana fruits.
That is because the people of the largest island province, Guadalcanal have diversified the use of unripe banana fruits into Banana Flour ahead of Makira people who proudly boast about having more varieties of bananas than other provinces in Solomon Islands.
North-West Guadalcanal people led by their Member of National Parliament, Bodo Dettke has started producing unripe banana fruits into Banana Flour.
Makira leaders formed the Makira Banana Festival nearly 10 years ago as a catalyst to attract tourists to visit Makira Ulawa Province, encourage more people to grow bananas and to diversify the use of banana fruits.
The Makira Banana Festival has been administered by Local Organizing Committees headed by a Chairperson and a Deputy.
The Local Organizing Committee held its last Makira Banana Festival at Kokana Village (a settlement of Reef Islanders from Temotu Province) in West Bauro of Central Makira in 2019.
But the LOC of the Makira Banana Festival did not hold the 2020 Festival due to the outbreak of the deadly disease, Corona Virus.
The 2021 Festival may not be held due to the same reason.
But the essence of the subject is the question of why has the Makira Banana Festival not been able to set diversification on the use of unripe banana fruits as one of its goals, and the failure of the Makira Ulawa Provincial Government, to support the LOC’s efforts.
Unfortunately and sadly enough, the founders of the Makira Banana Festival and the former Provincial Government had failed to agree on its main objectives.
The former Provincial Government had wanted to see more people to become banana growers, to diversify the use of banana fruits and keep banana as people’s staple food, while the founders maintained the idea of attracting more tourists to visit the Province.
The objectives are modest and sound for possible amalgamation.
Meanwhile, the one-year-old Provincial Government of Premier Julian Maka’a has yet to announce whether or not it will support the Makira Banana Festival.
But Mr Dettke who also started the export of Noni Fruit to Australia jumped at the opportunity to diversify the use of unripe banana fruits (which banana species have not been revealed) into Banana Flour.
And a recent Solomon Star report said Mr Dettke’s people have started using the unripe banana flour to bake muffin and bread, with the products being promoted by the Breakwater Cafe in Central Honiara.
The report also said this is a new industry for North-West Guadalcanal following the start of Noni drink production in the country.
And MP Dettke said he will find a commercial way for his banana farmers in North-West Guadalcanal to make money out of bananas, instead of having them sitting at Honiara Markets unsold because of excessive supplies.
The report said many people have applauded the MP for the approach which they have described as the way forward to help farmers and other rural people intending to go into banana farming.
By George Atkin
Kira Kira Correspondent