BY MIKE TUA
LOCAL Environment Journalist of Sunday Isles Newspaper, Alex Junior Dadamu has used his keyboard fingers to convert his backyard into a tropical oasis and beautiful banana garden.
The 29-year-old father of one, who resides at Mbua Valley community behind Kukum in Honiara, said when we think of banana trees, places like the Makira province come to mind.
Alex recalled his passion to grow the tropical plant started from a very young age by growing banana trees in his family’s rural garden and home backyard in Makira province, year-round.
“I started planting banana when I was a child back in Makira province,” he laughed.
“To be honest, I come to love banana when I was a child back in Makira,” he added.
“My parents are teachers and were posted in 1996 to Waimapuru National Secondary School in Central Baoro District, Central Makira Constituency.
“That’s where I spend most of my childhood days and where I started planting bananas.”
He repeated that he still recalls that he planted banana suckers around his family home in Honiara as early as 8 or 9 years of age.
“In Honiara, ever since I was a little kid in the early 90s, there are banana plants around our house.
“My grandmother, who is from Malaita is a strong believer that banana beats every other food crop when it comes to food security in Honiara City,” Alex recounted.
He took years to transform his family home backyard with the banana plants, however, he describes his appreciation for his backyard banana garden as a ‘faithful supplier of food’.
“I like to describe my appreciation for my banana plants as they are my ‘faithful supplier of food’ when all else failed and when the going gets tough,” Alex said.
Alex said there are 20 banana plants with different species in the garden.
“My backyard garden is small and new but already, as expected, now more than 4 banana plants have now bearing fruits and some I have already harvested earlier this year.
“Early last year, I collected the 5 different species of banana and I have planted the suckers in my backyard garden,” he said.
He often spends good time in his garden and described the banana fruits he had harvested as healthy and nutritious because he had taken extremely good care of it by being able to clean the dry and dead leaves from the banana plants after every fortnight.
“Since my banana garden is very close by, I visited it almost every day.
“Sometimes before going to work in the morning or back from work in the evening.
“It’s the cleaning up that I do every fortnight,” he said.
For Alex and his family, their backyard banana garden has become a source of food and an appreciated tropical view.
Now he advised that banana gardening is a great advantage to local families who wish to plant the tropical plant in the backyard of their private homes.
“I would really recommend planting banana because the plant requires less physical effort.
“The only effort will be at the beginning when planting it in the ground.
“Afterward, cleaning and looking after it requires little to no effort at all,” said Alex.
Alex who is originally from Malaita and Western but grew up in Makira said he also loves the banana plant because of its benefits to health and food security.
“I prefer banana apart from other food trees because of its consistency to provide food for the family in tough times.
“Unlike other fruit or food crop which have a growing season, bananas are available all year round.
“I would rate it as ‘very important’.
“I know for a fact and I’m sure that bananas are a staple food in many local communities and families in the country and it plays a major role in terms of food security,” he said.
Presently banana is being cultivated by both the urban and rural population throughout the respective nine provinces in the Solomon Islands.
It is a tropical plant and it is suitable for growing in any soil or climatic conditions in the country.
When asked how long it would take to grow and harvest a banana?
“The banana is an enduring plant that replaces itself. In the beginning, from sowing it takes 9 to 12 months to harvest the fruit.
“After harvesting, another plant will replace the harvested plant and from then on, the banana flower will appear after every sixth or seventh month.
“For some species, the period will be less,” Alex explained.