Processed Banana Hits the Market

Officials from Bushenyi the district-based Banana Industrial Research and Development Center-BIRDC on Friday flagged off the sale of their finished products in the open market.

During their commercialization launch at their model farm and distribution store in Jinja city’s agricultural show grounds, the officials said that the products are being made available to Ugandans, who for long have been demanding for the fruits of banana research initiative.

Their campaign involved commissioning of 11 distributors who will be using tricycles commonly referred to as ‘tuku-tuku’ to easily supply finished banana processed products to supermarkets and wholesale dealers across the country.

BIRDC, which was birthed from the 18 year old Presidential Initiative in Banana Improvement and Development-PIBID, is steering efforts of marketing finished products extracted from banana fingers across the East African Community -EAC, Europe and the Middle East.

BIRDC boasts of extracting flour from banana fingers, locally known as “tooke flour,” which is a raw material for several forms of bakery products ranging from cake, bread, chapattis, crisps, biscuits, porridge, etc, coupled with nutritious supplements, paper extracted from banana fibre, among other products still under study.

The director of PIBID, Florence Muranga says that after concluding 12 years of intensified research in several banana products extracted from different species and excelling through all world class human food consumption standards checks, they rolled out a six-year long commercialization plan, which involved intensified marketing in Kampala city and the diaspora.

Muranga notes that BIRDC will ensure increased earnings for the banana farmers who are direct beneficiaries of the dividends across the value addition chain, from the harvesting to the processing stages.

Muranga adds that farmers from the project piloting areas of greater Bushenyi and other parts of the country have ready market for their surplus bananas, which can be processed into other consumables to avoid undesirable post-harvest losses.

She adds that the project also aims at creating meaningful employment for the youths, who have since been earmarked as the key product suppliers across the country.

Meanwhile, the science and technology minister, Monica Musenero advised farmers to embrace value addition processes, which are not only job creating drivers, but also high revenue earners compared to direct sale of freshly harvested products in the markets.      Citing the example of BIRDC and PIBID, which jointly employ 350 employees, with 10% of them being direct scientists, Musenero urged members of the general public to support research-based value addition drives, which she says carry the capacity of creating more jobs for the whole population, irrespective of their academic specialty.

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