Passionate banana farmer inspires Bubi district
DRIVEN by passion and zeal to invest in something that could generate sustainable income, Mr Dumisani Gumpo (56), has ventured into commercial banana farming at his plot in Nkenyane area of Bubi District, Matabeleland North province.
His inspiration stems from his father’s farm where the family used to grow basic crops such as maize for subsistence purposes but he was motivated to upgrade this type of farming to commercial scale.
Today Mr Gumpo has 600 banana plants of a Williams variety 909, which are the short-hybrid type, very nutritious and sweet.
He says the plenty sun in Matabeleland North is a special ingredient that makes the bananas sweet.
“We are in the process of harvesting the first lot of these bananas in October. The harvest is going to be free of charge so that people have a taste of locally produced bananas and have an appreciation of them,” said Mr Gumpo.
“The second harvest is between November and December, which is going to be sold locally and in other places. I want banana farming to grow and not to be focused on only one person.
“For that reason, I have given 100 banana plants to two villages namely Silas and Raffs, which are under Mrs Cookie Moyo and Chief Mtshana Khumalo. I gave community members the opportunity to grow their own bananas and gain experience.
“I’m happy that they have started the projects and they are doing very well,” he said.
The Internet played a huge role in imparting new knowledge discovery, says Mr Gumpo who is married to Siphathokuhle (42) and the couple has six daughters.
“I utilised the internet and social media platforms in obtaining knowledge and this is where I came across my mentor, Mr Bright Nezomba, who also shares the same passion for bananas like me,” he said.
“Mr Nezomba is a very experienced expert in banana farming and processing and has been doing it for over 15 years. He never gets tired of mentoring me and I depend on him for knowledge and skills.
“The other inspiration was from discovering the favourable conditions for banana farming in the country, which has adequate direct sunlight available.”
Mr Gumpo said on October 29 he would be sponsoring a workshop at Nkenyane Business Centre for banana farming where his mentor is going to engage with other farmers and stakeholders as well.
He encouraged people to consume banana products such as banana flour and chips, which are 100 percent organic with no additives and are good for their good health.
“The general idea is that people move from the mindset of being consumers to producers and not be dependent on neighbouring countries,” said Mr Gumpo.
“The task falls on rural people who have more fertile land for banana farming so that the harvest is massive. With favourable conditions for banana farming, why should people not utilise such an opportunity and have a lot of income at their disposal.
“There is a lot of income to be pursued in commercial banana farming that people should look at and invest in,” he said. Mr Gumpo said one can harvest from the same banana plant for 15 years without cutting it.
He said other advantages of banana farming are that they do not require too much labour, are not seasonal as people eat them throughout the year and do not define anyone’s status.
While commercial banana farming faces water and fertilizer challenges, he has learnt to use chicken manure in place of expensive fertilisers.
“Farming should have diversity. I am grateful for the inputs that l receive from the Government that assist people like me who are passionate about farming,” he said.
“In future, I want to venture into farming macadamia and pecan nuts. The reason behind planting these is that they have a long-life span and are harvested for 30 years. I also have a bee keeping project, which is still developing,” he added.