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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Farming Bananas as a Business: Opportunities Available

“The future of the banana industry is beyond food. We should start looking at value addition across the value chain with the aim of commercialization”. These comments were made by the head of the national banana program, Dr Priver Bwesigye, during an engagement with key private sector players in the industry to discuss the opportunities available to them for commercialization.

Dr Tushemereirwe Wilberforce, the Director of National agricultural research laboratories (NARL) speaking at the workshop held at Kawanda.

This discussion was held at the National agricultural research laboratories (NARL) in Kawanda, with the aim of finding out how partnerships between the public and private sector can drive the industry towards agro industrial development. The meeting was officially opened by NARL’s director of research, Dr Tushemereirwe Wilberforce who emphasized the great opportunity the NARO/FTF project presented to the industry. Through this project, sector players get to decide how and what they need to drive the banana sector towards commercialization.

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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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