UGANDA- Ugandan officials from the Banana Industrial Research and Development Center-BIRDC have flagged off the sale of a processed banana product named ‘Tooke flour’ after an intense banana research initiative.
According to BIRDC ‘tooke flour’ is a raw material for several forms of bakery products ranging from cake, bread, chapattis, crisps, biscuits, and porridge coupled with nutritious supplements, paper extracted from banana fibre among other unveiled products.
Speaking during the commercialization launch of the product, the officials said that the product will be made available to Ugandans who have long been demanding the fruits of the research initiative.
“The campaign will involve the 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,” the officials said.
In addition, Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) director, Florence Muranga noted that after a 12-years intensified research in several banana products extracted from different species, the department has rolled out a 6-year long commercialization plan, which will involve intensified marketing in Kampala and the diaspora.
“BIRDC will also 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,” she noted.
Muranga added that farmers from several parts of the country have a ready market for their surplus bananas, which can be processed into other consumables to avoid undesirable post-harvest losses.
Additionally, she highlights that the project also aims at creating meaningful employment for the youths, who have since been earmarked as key product suppliers across the country.
The Ugandan Science and Technology minister, Monica Musenero, urged farmers to also embrace value-addition processes, which are not only job-creating drivers but also high revenue earners compared to direct sales of freshly harvested products in the markets.
BIRDC, which was birthed from the 18-year-old Presidential Initiative in the 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.
A report from the PIBID indicates that Ugandans have been feeding on Bananas (matooke) for so many years estimating, over 10 million tonnes of production every year.
The report highlights that at least 10 million people feed on bananas as their main food in Uganda and many more feed on it across the region. However, there is a lot of waste of the banana.
Experts say that for many years, the fact that the banana was only eaten as a direct food meant that a lot of it was wasted.
The post-harvest stoppage has been the main agenda for the set-up of Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) aiming to help the banana sector turn the banana into a more valued food-by processing it into other products.