NARO and private sector in move to address export challenges in banana

NARO through USAID funded Feed the Future Uganda Agricultural Research Activity is in talks with the Uganda Fruits and Vegetable Exporters and Producers Association and Horticultural Exporters Association.

Exporters  touring the Food Biosciences and Agribusiness laboratory where Long-shelf-life banana technology is being developed.

This is in a bid to forge collaboration with private sector to bridge the research-market gap for the export market. In an entry engagement held on 20th September 2021 at Kawanda-National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL), 40 banana exporters engaged with NARO’s banana research team to explore potential partnerships for market testing of the long-share-life banana, and establish a platform through which the exporters can input and support improvement of the technology under development.

Speaking on behalf of the Director-NARL, Mr. Kaggwa Abdullah explained that NARO has started commercialisation of its products and is focusing on eight commodities including the banana crop. “We are looking at easing banana export and value addition. The Banana research program is being supported to develop four banana technologies including; long-shelf-life banana, ethanol extracted from corm, resistant starch and fibre extraction”. Mr. Kaggwa said.

He further highlighted that the export market is currently facing high freight costs and is informal which has left many business people vulnerable to being cheated.

Some of the exporters who attended the meeting held at NARL - Kawanda.

Ms. Hasifah Tusabe, the Coordinator of the Uganda Fruits and Vegetables Exporters and Producers Association (UFVEPA) noted that the exporters are facing numerous challenges. “Our biggest challenge is pests and diseases especially quarantine pests. Every time our products have pests and diseases, we face abrupt suspension of exports,” she said, before adding that, “we also face poor penetration of markets due to limited production, limited value addition, packaging and absence of standards among others”.  

The Association highlighted the need to strengthen engagements with exporters on disease and pest management, packaging and market oriented traits.

Participants were sensitized on the market potential of fresh and preserved cooking bananas. While making a presentation during the meeting. Mr. Nasser Mulumba, the Manager of Knowledge WELLS Agricultural Consult Limited revealed that exporting matooke peeled and preserved by NARO’s nanotechnology has potential to increase shelf-life to more than 14 days and reduce flight costs by 40%.

Going forward, the exporters resolved to work with NARO through a tripartite MOU which will also involve the Feed the Future- Inclusive Agricultural Market Activity. This event follows a series of private sector engagements recently initiated by this Activity to harness the power of private sector in accelerating uptake and use of agricultural research technologies and innovations.

 

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