Until the late 1990s, bananas were big business in Malawi. The industry employed between 2 million and 3 million people and completely satisfied domestic demand. But then, the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) wiped out production, forcing many former Malawi banana farmers to find alternative livelihoods. Today, the country relies almost entirely on imports. More than 90 percent of bananas consumed in Malawi are now purchased in Tanzania and Mozambique.
With the support of the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT), Lilongwe-based Hortinet is working to re-establish banana production in Malawi. Through its efforts, it aims to create employment, reduce imports and offer Malawi an additional source of income while diversifying the country’s economy and reducing its heavy reliance on tobacco exports.