Transformation of subsistence banana growing into commercial production for export and improved livelihoods

A team from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is visiting beneficiary farmer groups and facilities in the districts of Mbarara and Bushenyi where farmers who were formerly growing Bananas for subsistence have been empowered to process and package products from Bananas for sale on the local and international market.

The team is led by Mr. Stephen Biribonwa and Ms Owechi Hellen from the MAAIF Internal Audit Unit who are visiting with representatives of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) the partner organisation led by Ms. Rebecca Nanjala the National Project Coordinator.

This project which is “Reducing vulnerability of banana-producing communities to climate change through banana value-added activities – Enhancing food security and employment generation” aims at supporting vulnerable communities in Western Uganda to better adapt to the effects of Climate Change through banana value addition activities and to provide greater opportunities for income generation, poverty reduction and food security. UNIDO provides assistance to vulnerable banana-growing communities engaged in value-addition activities for income generation, poverty reduction and food security. The project is supporting the development of a sustainable banana industry through the supply of disease-free banana planting materials, demonstrations on the use of banana waste for biogas and as compost for soil fertility, and the introduction of new agricultural practices to enhance retention of field and plantation nutrients.

The project is also promoting improved food safety and the production of quality value-added products for better access to markets and increased incomes for beneficiary communities.• Around 180 banana farmers have been supplied with 71,000 disease-free tissue culture banana plantlets for the establishment of mother gardens which will be able to supply clean planting material to at least 2,500 farmers who are most vulnerable to climate change.

One hundred and fifty-six acres of banana mother gardens have been set up in the districts of Bushenyi, Mbarara, Ntungamo, Isingiro, Sheema, Mitooma, Rubirizi and Buhweju.• The 180 or so farmers and eight community-based processors have received bio-digesters to produce biofuel from banana waste and demonstrations on the use of the digestate of banana waste effluent for biofuel and as a source of soil improver or organic fertilizer on the farms.•Eight community-based processing facilities producing value-added banana-based products – including flour, chips, juice and wine – are being upgraded to improve quality and production volumes through trainings, infrastructure improvements and the introduction of new equipment.At least 2,500 farming households will be impacted by the project’s intervention. Through sensitization workshops and on-farm demonstrations, farmers are being provided with tools and knowledge to enable them to better cope with the adverse effects of climate change by engaging in sustainable value-addition activities in equitable ways.Community-based processors are being supported to produce quality banana products that meet basic safety standards of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and to enable them to engage more smallholder farmers and community members in the supply and processing of banana.Through this, vulnerable smallholder famers will have opportunities for additional income from banana production to provide for their basic essential needs