At the peak of every banana harvesting season, farmers lament about a drop in prices due to the pumper harvests. However, if farmers can add value to their bananas, profit from their produce would go up.
Dr. Alex Ariho, Director Exhort Consult and Incubation Centre says adding value to bananas is the best way to go.
“Research shows that you can get as many as 100 products from bananas. Ugandan farmers can and should adopt some of these,” he says.
The easiest include banana juice and banana wine, which Exhort also produces. But there is also banana flour, cakes etc.
How to make banana juice
What you need
-Bananas, a bunch of 30kgs costs sh20,000
-Banana juice press costs from sh250,000 for a small one
-A pasturizing system at a cost of sh1-2m for small enterprises
-Clean water and jerrycans
-Packaging materials at sh500 for each half litre
For a long time, banana juice was mainly got from kisubi, kayinja and musa varieties. Ideally, these should still produce the best juice.
However, they are getting scarce. This is why most processors now use the common bananas. The best juice is made from the best bananas. They should not have any scratches and must be mature before they are harvested.
Keep them in a warm place for them to ripen. After ripening up, they are pressed/squeezed, using a fruit press if you have one or by hand if a person does not have the press.
Juice presses of any sizes are sold in domestic utensils stores around town from sh200,000. If you are pressing by hand, you use clean straw or half-dried banana leaves to help you squeeze the juice out of the bananas. The juice is diluted according to the required taste.
For good taste, one litre of banana juice is diluted with 4 litres of water.
The juice is then boiled and then mixed with a preservative. Beverage preservatives are elements that stop bacterial reactions that cause rotting in foods.
Packaging materials are sold in plastics dealers stores around Kampala at as low as sh500 for a half-litre bottle. A 30kg bunch of bananas can produce at least 10litres of diluted juice. A packed litre of banana juice costs sh6,000-7,000 in most supermarkets.
Banana winemaking procedure
-Clean saucepans and jerrycans (depends on volume)
-Bottles for packaging the wine-sh2500 each
According to Professor George William Bazirake Byarugaba of Afri banana, an organization that trains people to add value to bananas, you need ripened bananas to start the process.
Peel them, then squeeze them using either clean grasses or a juice squeezer. You then pasteurize the juice by boiling it before adding yeast.
Thereafter, ferment to complete the first process. The process takes 3-4months. Equipment used for small-scale wine processing includes; clean saucepans and jerrycans to store the wine, a bottle cock sealing machine too is important.
When you are through, you can seal the bottle and label. Also, allow the wine to mature further and when it is done, you can distribute it to the users.
A litre of banana wine costs over sh25,000 onwards.