MAPUTO, Banana producing company Bananalandia, which grows the crop in Boane district, about 30 kilometres west of here, has suffered a sharp fall in production because of the severe restrictions on water consumption imposed by the government.

For much of 2016, Maputo province suffered from a severe drought linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon but even after the drought ended, there was insufficient rainfall in the basin of the Umbeluzi River to provide enough water for both human consumption and for irrigation.

The Pequenos Libombos Dam on the Umbeluzi River was in danger of drying up and by early January this year, it was only 13 per cent full. The government stepped in to determine that this water must be used as the top priority by the Umbeluzi treatment and pumping station which provides drinking water for Maputo and its twic city of Matola and Boane district. The use of water for irrigation was banned, affecting all agricultural concerns along the banks of the Umbeluzi, including Bananalandia.

The level of the Pequenos Libombos reservoir has recovered somewhat, and it is now about 27 per cent full but this is not enough to guarantee supplies during the coming dry months before the next rainy season, which begins in October. The restrictions on the use of Umbeluzi water thus remain in force.

The director of production at Bananalandia, Manuel Maluana, says that before the drought and the restrictions on water consumption, Bananalandia was producting between 55 and 60 tonnes of bananas per hectare. That figure has now fallen to between 40 and 45 tonnes a hectare.

Up until the end of October 2016, the banana plantation was irrigated for between one and two hours every day. But when the restrictions on water use were imposed, irrigation stopped and Bananalandia became entirely dependent on rainfall.

“The lack of irrigation is severely affecting production. Previously, banana production varied between 65 and 70 kilogrammes per bunch. But now it is between 14 and 45 kg,” he said.