Feed the Future Project Reveals Huge Banana Market in Northern Uganda

The Feed the Future Uganda Agriculture Research Activity is a research and development initiative that seeks to promote use and commercialization of improved crop and livestock technologies with yield and nutrition enhancing characteristics. The Activity directly supports Development Objectives 1 and 3 in USAID/Uganda’s Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) 2016-2021.

In order to achieve this objective, the activity focuses on the continued improvement of crop genetics, bio-fortification, integrated pest and disease management for eight commodities; root crops (cassava and sweet potatoes), coffee, semi-arid/dryland crops (sorghum, millet and green gram), banana, beans, maize, potato, and livestock (indigenous chicken).

During the first year of implementation, the Banana Program team participated in conducting baseline and market studies; establishing strategic partnerships and systems for commercialization.

Scaling Banana Market in Northern Uganda

Stakeholder consultations on scaling of banana in northern Uganda revealed a potentially huge banana market in the region, Southern Sudan and Sudan, presenting significant business opportunities for the farmers in these areas. Banana is intended to change the communities of Northern Uganda from depending on volatile, unstable annual cropping systems to more stable and reliable perennial cropping systems thereby improving and stabilizing their food and income security. Preliminary findings of a detailed market study showed that bananas were more profitable compared to key staples such as sim-sim, soya-beans, beans, groundnuts etc, with profitability margins of Ush6.2million/acre/year compared to rice’s Ush2.6million, groundnuts’ Ush2.0million or soybean’s Ush1.4million.

Other findings revealed that bananas consumed in Acholi and Lango sub-regions alone were worth Ush25.99billion and that most of them are sourced from other areas justifying the need to increase production in the region from 27.5 to 80 bunches/acre/month.

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Industry potential of bananas in Uganda

National Banana Research Program (NBRP) is focusing on identifying and developing banana products other than food to contribute to the country’s industrialization and export market.

Banana and its by-products are an excellent source of highly valuable raw materials for various industries. The raw materials can be sourced from the whole banana tree, from the corm, pseudo stem, leaves, male bud and fruit (peel and flesh). Currently, banana is only utilised for food using only the fruit flesh (20%) leading to the underutilisation of the banana and ultimately a huge amount of untapped biomass.

All this has industrial potential which will increase the economic benefits of banana and address the high cost of urban waste management presented by banana waste.

Banana can be utilized in several commercially viable in various food and non-food industrial applications and processes such as:

  • Confectionery
  • Colouring and flavour agents in foods and beverages;
  • Livestock feed
  • Textiles
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Bio-fertilizers
  • Bioenergy and
  • Waste water treatment.

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Banana Agronomy Project

Productivity of East African highland banana remains low at farm level despite previous research efforts. This is because previous research targeted constraints in isolation, with no directed effort to consolidate them into holistic management approaches to improve yield.

Thus, the conception and implementation of a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (BMGF) funded banana-agronomy project entitled: “Improving scalable banana agronomy for small scale farmers in East Africa.”

The specific objects of the project are to reduce the yield gap and extension support gaps so as to boost banan productivity of small scale farmers in Uganda (western & central regions) and Tanzania.

The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners who include:

  • National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO)
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
  • TARI
  • Bioversity International
  • Makerere University
  • CABI

The overall objective of the project is targeting increasing banana productivity from 10tons/ha/year to 25tons/ha/year reaching 25,000 beneficiaries. The strategies for this focused on decision support tools, intensification, scaling, communication, monitoring and evaluation.

Opportunities for improvement include; the wide gap between on farm and attainable yield, pre-existing variability: learning from best farmers, previous research outputs and enriching the basket of options.


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NARO Banana Promotes Market Value of Banana Products at WFD

NARO’s Banana Research Program has initiated a drive for commercial banana production in order to tap into the existing market for bananas. At the World Food Day (WFD) celebrations held at Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MbaZardi) on 16th October 2020, the team representing the Banana Program from NARL-Kawanda promoted the importance of industrialization of banana products and their market value.

Ivan Kabiita, the NARO Banana Breeder explaining to Hon. Bridget Rwamirama at the WFD celebrations in Mbarara.

Farmers, government officials and different stakeholders in the Agriculture sector at the event were persuaded to move from the normal way of growing bananas for food consumption but tap into the rich market of banana products. This year’s WFD celebrations were organized under the theme “Grow Nourish Sustain Together” and held in different NARO insitutes acros the country including NaFFORI (Mukono), NaSSARI (Serere), Ngetta (Lira) and MbaZARDI (Mbarara).

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National Banana Research Program
National Agricultural Research Laboratories
(NARL) - Kawanda P.O. Box 7065, Kampala
along Bombo – Gulu road.

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