Traditional Authority (T/A) Changata of Thyolo has said the banana bunchy top disease has negatively affected production in most districts in the Southern Region and fuelling school dropout rate in the district.
The chief said this on Friday at Luchenza Secondary School in Thyolo where Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) organised a five-day summer camp which attracted 200 girls from different schools in the district.
He said the disease is fuelling school dropouts in the district as banana production is the main source of income.
Said Changata: “Here in Thyolo, many learners dropout of school because most households’ income comes from banana farming. Unfortunately, farmers uprooted bananas affected by the disease and that has affected their income. Many parents are failing to send their children to school because they did not find an alternative to banana farming; hence, the dropouts which eventually result in early marriages”.
He commended Genet for organising the summer camp.
In an interview after the camp, Genet project adviser Takondwa Kaliwo said the camp sought to bring together young girls from different schools to share experiences and train them in different topics. The topics included girls’ empowerment, gender based violence and issues that force girls into child marriages.
She said Campaign for Female Education (Camfed) assured them that they will support the girls to further their education.